Choices and Efforts: Jordan, A Champion

Choices and Efforts: Jordan, A Champion March 27, 2024

Jordan's and Mariah's choices and efforts win state championships.
(Photo by Abe Mills)

Two of my children made history this year! Jordan, age 18, and Mariah, age 16, are the first brother and sister duo to win the state wrestling championships in the same year in the State of Florida. Choices and efforts both have made about hard work, dedication, and sacrifice have shaped their future, affected their ability to deal with adversity, and determined their success on and off the mat. Jordan’s extremely painful choices and efforts have and still are greatly impacting his life.

 Choice and Perspective

We are all blessed with agency—opportunities to choose for ourselves—including spiritual choices and efforts that will determine our future, including our ability to handle spiritual challenges and our success in living the gospel.

Before his junior year in high school, Jordan was receiving Division 1 offers to play football and attracting notice from Division 1 wrestling programs. He expected  offers and opportunities to increase in his junior year through improved skills and strength. But a freak injury in football practice his junior year interfered.

Jordan had surgery on his shoulder and missed the postseason, including crucial camps affecting college offers. But Jordan chose to see this situation as a blessing from God so he could focus more on his spirituality. He read and pondered the scriptures daily, making choices and efforts to strengthen his relationship with the Savior, never feeling sorry for himself but being grateful for the experiences the Lord gave him.

Effort Interrupted

 Fast forward to his senior season of wrestling. Jordan had recovered from his surgery and had a perfect record heading into the finals at the state tournament. He had already beaten his opponent three times and was feeling confident heading in.

Having already won her match, Mariah was a state champion, waiting for her brother to join her on the winner’s stand. Jordan only needed to beat his opponent a fourth time. About 30 seconds into the match, he went to do a move and his shoulder suddenly dislocated. Jordan called for an injury time out, but the referees were slow to respond, allowing his opponent to begin a take down. Jordan ‘s face showed his intense pain. Trainers came out on the mat to help him.

Meanwhile the referees awarded his opponent 5 points because Jordan had asked for a timeout in the middle of an exchange. They felt  that he would have been taken down to his back if the contest had continued.

The trainers put Jordan’s shoulder back into place and expressed concern. He obviously wasn’t fully recovered, but his 2 minutes of injury time was up and he had a decision to make. In pain and with a weak shoulder, he could decide that he had had a good run and that going on was too painful. Or he could continue, knowing he was already down 5-0, thinking that his predicament wasn’t fair, feeling sorry for himself, and just let the match play out.

Choices and Efforts in Crisis

But neither of these would have been the Jordan we knew. His choices and efforts were consistent with his character. He later said that in the crucial moment, he thought of how he wanted the story to end. Regardless of severe pain and the weakened condition of his shoulder, he would trust in his preparation, in his ability, and, most important, in God’s ability to help him be the best he could be in that moment.

How many of us have faced such a choice in a crisis: whether to feel sorry for ourselves and give up or to trust in our preparation and in God’s strength to lift us? The Lord’s answer to these questions, particularly to feelings of doubt, is given in Isaiah 41:10.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 We also see the importance of our preparation in Isaiah 40:31.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

With all of his faith and preparation, Jordan mounted up. Nursing his right shoulder, he clawed his way back into the match and headed into overtime, where he earned victory and a place in Florida wrestling history!

Shoulder to the Wheel

A popular hymn urges, “Put your shoulder to the wheel; push along.”  Jordan’s painful push was physical, mental and spiritual. He had already determined that God was most important. He already knew that whether he won or lost the match ALL GLORY was going to be given to God.

There is no doubt in my mind that his choices through his many challenges in the past couple of years have shaped his future, affecting how he will continue to approach life and the adversity that may come.

I know these mindsets will sustain and guide him as he serves the Lord as a missionary in Hong Kong, where he will be going in July. His main concern is not colleges that wouldn’t wait for him to be available. His main concern now is to be a faithful servant in sharing his faith with those he looks forward to teaching.

As we use our precious gift of choice each day, I pray that we will make those decisions knowing that they will shape our future, affecting how we handle future adversity and determining our success at living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May we be able to stand firm in our faith—in our preparation and in God’s ability to help us in our choices and efforts to be the best possible versions of ourselves.

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