A couple of weeks ago, Olympic gold medalist and American sweetheart, Marion Jones, plead guilty to two counts of making false statements to federal agents. She acknowledged that she was dishonest in answering questions regarding her use of performance-enhancing drugs prior to competing in track and field events during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Furthermore, she acknowledged she lied about her awareness of a check fraud scheme involving her former boyfriend, also a former Olympian.
As she made her first public statement admitting to the world her transgressions, she couldn’t hold back her tears. In some ways she seemed strong for standing and acknowledging her truth, but in other ways, she seemed weary, restless and full of regret.
The dismantling of Marion Jones and her career has important lessons in it for all of us. In fact, I am confident that Marion, herself, would want us to learn from her mistakes. The shame associated with wrongdoing caused her to hide the truth, not only from federal agents, but it appears that she buried the truth so deep that for many years, she was unable to admit to herself what she had done. In the past, when questioned about her alleged steroid use, she continually and forcefully denied the rumors and accusations. Now, we know, she deceived the American public and probably deceived herself.
As we make our life choices, we must remember that our actions have consequences. Even when we think we’re getting away with something, we’re really not. It’s just a matter of time before the truth comes out. We must ask ourselves, “Is this really worth it?” Is the sin…the immoral behavior…or the illegal actions worth the aftermath of what is surely to come when the truth is exposed?
Make no mistake about it— the Enemy is skilled at clouding our judgment and causing us to make bad decisions. In the case of Marion Jones, he caused her to want Olympic gold so bad that she would do anything to get it. Trust me, if Marion could go back in time and compete honestly, she would. At this point, she would have gladly taken 7 th place in her track and field events, rather than endure this personal trial.
Truth be told, we all make mistakes and some of those mistakes are huge. Marion Jones deserves forgiveness just as we all deserve forgiveness when we have fallen and then remorsefully admitted our wrongs.
As I think about it, there are ironic parallels between Marion’s life experience and the experience of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Both women wanted to be number #1. Eve wanted to be like God and Marion wanted to be the best in the world. Both women were willing to do almost anything—moral or immoral— to get to their goal. The Bible warns us in Philippians 2: 3-5 to “do nothing out of selfish ambition”. The pursuit of self has the power to destroy you. In the case of Marion Jones, getting what she wanted cost her everything she had.