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MARY ANN CRUM


You know that guy in a meeting who ponders every point so thoroughly that when everyone else has long since moved on to other issues, he's still fixated on that earlier thing?

I'm going to be that guy right now because I want to revisit the Summer Olympic Games one more time. I know we've all moved on to college football, but I'm going back to Rio. But not to talk about the athletes or the medals or the events, but rather the parents of those Olympic athletes.

After all, some of the parents were almost as memorable as their gifted offspring. Like Aly Raisman's parents, who became media sensations because of their animated agony during Aly's gymnastics routines. Most of America probably joined me in screaming, "Somebody get those people some medication!" every time we saw them writhing and wincing in their seats.

Then there was the father of American runner Matthew Centrowitz Jr. who jumped around in the stands like a little kid on Christmas morning when his son won a gold medal in the 1500-meter run. Matthew Jr. has a big tatoo emblazoned across his chest that says, "Like Father, Like Son" in honor of his dad, a former Olympic runner. Although he says he's not a fan of body art, Matthew Sr. reportedly promised to get a tattoo if his son won a medal and he's considering one that says, "Like Son, like Father."

I'm not a fan of tats, either, but I love that story.

Seeing those parents reminded me of the quote by author Alex Haley: "Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help."

That's most certainly the case when it comes to elite or professional athletes. None of them got there all by themselves.

Of course, for every athlete who makes it to the Olympic Games, there are thousands who don't. Thousands of parents who also got up every morning at 4:30 a.m. to take their kids to practice and poured significant chunks of money into a dream that never came true.

What about those parents? Was it all a waste?

That depends, I think, upon what motivated the sacrifices they made. Was it love or selfish ambition?

If it was love, I don't think their sacrifices were wasted because the Bible tells us that "love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8a).

When we invest in the lives of others, we're never guaranteed success, if we measure success by worldly standards. But if what we invest is love, then we can know this: love never fails, even when those we've poured ourselves into make bad choices, give up, or simply don't have what it takes. The people we love may fail, but love doesn't.

Remember Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples Jesus invested in for three years? Judas experienced the perfect love, grace and truth of God in the person of Jesus ? and rejected it. In fact, he did more than just reject Jesus. He betrayed Him -- sold the Savior down the river for a few lousy bucks.

Does that mean the love of Jesus failed? No. And it's still not failing today, even though multitudes continue to reject what Jesus offers.

We can't control and aren't measured by what others do with what we give them. We're just called to give.

Our love may boost someone to the top of the fencepost, or the Olympic medal stand, but even if it doesn't, it's not wasted.

And even if the one we love doesn't appreciate it, the One who loves us does.

"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me," Jesus said.

Mary Ann Crum (maryanncrum.com) lives in Abbeville and is the author of two books, "A Giggle Goes a Long Way" and "Live.Learn.Laugh!" She can be reached at maryanncrum@gmail.com.