Just Okay

On the last night of the IJM Freedom Tour I told the team I was disappointed with my performance. Ever since we got home I’ve had this nagging, generalized sense of disappointment, but I’ve been struggling to get my head around exactly what it means.

Last night I finally understood as I listened to Trey Hardee after he won the silver medal in the Olympic decathlon, perhaps the most grueling of Olympic contests. Decathletes compete in ten running, jumping, and throwing events over two days. The culminating event, after forty-eight hours of exhausting competition, is the 1500-meter run.

Hardee’s not a typical middle-distance runner. At 6’5”, 211 lbs, he dragged himself across the finish line with a smile of satisfaction and accomplishment. As back story, you need to know that ten months earlier ligament replacement surgery threatened to derail Hardee’s Olympic dream and perhaps end his athletic career.

“I’m happy,” he said, “I couldn’t have tried any harder.”

He wasn’t talking about the competition. Everybody competes hard. It’s the training that’s hard. Hardy meant he prepared as hard as he possibly could.

And I understood my disappointment about the tour. I didn’t prepare as well as I could have. My preparation was “just okay.”

I trained…sort of. But at the margins I was going through the motions. And I got away with “just okay” until heat and hills slapped me in the face with a dose of reality.

Looking back, I see what happened. I battle this thing called clinical depression. It’s a nasty, insidious entity that looks for cracks and crannies into which it can seep. Normally I manage it pretty well, but occasionally I lose my balance in a particular area and this dark cloud envelops me. And if I’m not careful the cloud takes over all areas of my life before I realize what’s happened.

A few weeks before the tour, I let my struggle with a personal issue get bigger than it needed to be. I didn’t recognize that the depression was stifling me mentally and spiritually, and the impact that had on my physical training. So my training, my preparation, was “just okay.”

The result? My riding was “just okay.” Worse, my overall participation in the experience of the tour—the relationships, the opportunities for giving and growth—were “just okay.”

So why tell you this? Because RICH’S RIDE is about telling the story, and the story isn’t all about victory laps. If I write only about the good stuff I’m not telling the truth, and that’s not the point.

I’ll do better next time…and there will be a next time, because God’s all about second chances. I’m grateful for grace, for the opportunity to learn from mistakes.

“Just okay” isn’t okay. It’s a waste of opportunity and gifts.

“Just okay” is a waste of a dream.

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6 thoughts on “Just Okay

  1. […] while back I wrote a post titled Just Okay about my struggles with training for my recent tour. At the end I said God’s about second (and […]

  2. […] God doesn’t want us to settle for “just okay.” He sent Jesus so we could have abundant lives, not simply “good enough” […]

  3. Carine Pearson - August 14, 2012

    You are so right, Rich. I am sorry I jumped the gun and was giving you kudos even though I believe in them for what you did. I could not face the fact that you were disappointed with yourself’s performance when you really worked hard to get this whole thing going. I guess I was not looking at the rigorous training like you did. Kudos that you figured it out!!!!!!! Praise God! Your friend, Carine

  4. Julie Pfeifer - August 13, 2012


    What you learned about yourself and the growth you had in being able to not only recognize “just ok” but share it with others is very touching and moving. It seems sometimes that the hardest things in our lives end up being the things that catapult us into the most positive place that we’ve ever been both spiritually and emotionally. The best times are ahead! I love you friend. You are an amazing person!


  5. Carine Pearson - August 11, 2012

    Hi Rich,

    I can agree with you when you say “just okay.” I have been there myself and I bet many others as well. It is okay to critique ourselves but then we have to listen to what God says about it. I think He would say about your Ride, “That was well done, Rich, my good and faithful servant.” Every Ride is different with different things to learn. In my book, you are my hero because you set out to accomplish something and you saw the others on your team go through their problems as well. But you all became closer and were a team with one purpose. You went out and did something – you did not stay home and watch TV but actually cared enough to start a team and go the distance. However, you did it doesn’t matter. You did so much more than any of us…………..I truly think the world of you, Rich, you completed a wonderful thing!!! Carine

  6. mike walz - August 11, 2012

    Rich: Again I enjoyed reading your trip entires. Glad you’re back and safe. Don’t beat yourself up. Believe me your “ok” is better than I could have done.


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