Why I’m keeping my yellow Livestrong bracelet
To this day, whenever I stand on the pedals on my bicycle, I think of Lance Armstrong charging up the Alpe d’Huez in the 2001 Tour de France. I remember the look on Lance’s face as he glanced back at Jan Ulrich as if to say, “You got an answer for this?” before he pulled away up the 8% grade. And, yes, I’m still inspired. I still have my Livestrong bracelet, and I’m not throwing it away.
Lance still inspires me when I think back on those 7 consecutive wins. I watched many of the Tours faithfully. He was a master on the bicycle. The grit in his heart showed all over his face, especially on those grueling mountain stages. Yes, the doping enhanced his ability to get up the mountains, but the drugs didn’t create his ability. The drugs didn’t get him out of bed every morning to train in the offseason, and they didn’t give him the will to beat cancer.
Lance still inspires me even though he cheated and then ruthlessly protected his mythic status. I don’t like what he did, but I get why he did it. He had everything to lose: the Tour de France victories, the Livestrong Foundation, the endorsements, and the heroic narrative.
Lance still inspires me because his story mirrors the story of David. King David had his own heroic narrative that included Goliath and his own story of cheating with Bathsheba. He also ruthlessly protected his reputation by having Bathsheba’s husband killed in a military battle, and his lie was exposed in dramatic fashion.
Why does Lance Armstrong still inspire me? Because when I think of him now, I don’t see the idol with superhuman cycling ability. I see a man struggling through a messy life. I see a man who got caught up in the myth of his story and lost himself somewhere along the way. I see a man who is enduring a very public and painful fall from grace, and I root for him all the more.
Lance still inspires me because he reminds me that you cannot fall from grace. You can only fall into grace. He makes me remember how we all desperately need grace and mercy and how God’s mercy is His glory. And then I remember that the only thing Adam and Eve could not experience before the Fall was God’s grace.
So, I’m keeping my yellow Livestrong bracelet. Because when I think of Lance now, I can’t help but think of grace and how every one of us falls into it. And that inspires me a whole lot more than a guy who manages to stay on his pedestal.
1 Samuel 17
2 Samuel 11 & 12
Exodus 33:12-23 (particularly v.18 & 19)