Athlete, We Remember


Athlete, We Remember

Dean Thornton

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

(This devotional is about suicide. If you find it difficult to read about, please feel free to skip today’s devotional.)

In this difficult “Pandemic” time period, many of us unfortunately have lost someone to this virus, and many of us have lost someone due to other reasons.

Death is a difficult subject to talk about, it’s a looming thought pushed to the back of our minds. When we lose anyone, it can hit us hard, it can be unexpected, and can leave us asking God why? 

When we lose someone, due to their battles with mental illness, it can leave us reeling with more questions of how could this happen? What things could I have done to prevent it? How could I not have seen the signs? 

It forces us to look at the subject head on, a lot of the times when it’s already too late. 

A mental trigger is something that affects you emotionally in a way that is significant. I was at college one night when I had the biggest mental trigger of my life, a moment I didn’t think I would be able to come back from. 

I was in such a dark place from dealing with my anxiety, depression, and OCD, that they all mixed together to create a toxic combination. The intense feeling led me to try and jump off a bridge at school. But while doing so, God showed me that He was still there beside me even though I felt completely alone. 

Thankfully, He made me see that I still had so much to live for. I thank Him everyday for showing me I had more talents than just running, and a support circle of my family, friends and therapist who would help me. 

Years later I heard about a book written by former ESPN writer and analyst Kate Fagan called, “What Made Maddy Run.” It’s a story about a former star scholar athlete Madison Holleran, who had her own battles with mental illness and the pressures of being great on and off the field. 

Sadly she took her own life back in January 2014, but Kate creates a picture for us to see in the book of the type of pressures today’s athletes face and the broken systems in schools that have very little in place to help these athletes. 

There is a quote by the late comedian Robin Williams that says, “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”

In my past podcast I talked about how star athletes can feel lonely at the top. Even surrounded by friends and family, if one’s circle is not equipped to know how to help that person struggling, that loneliness can reach an all time high. 

In today’s verse, it talks about giving praise “to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” 

There is comfort in just saying His name, Jesus. That night in college wasn’t the first of my many attempts, but my continued faith in the Lord helped it to be my last. 

God has shown me His grace and mercy over my 38 years, and has shown me that I do have a strong, loving support system around me that has helped me heal and grow with this second chance of life. 

He has shown me my passion, a passion to help other athletes, people, who have gone through the same. I wish I could’ve been there for Madison, but her memory motivates me to continue to fight to end the stigma around mental illness, and to show that through faith in Christ, He can show you not only your purpose but take on any heavy pressure.

(If you are also struggling with mental health, here are some resources you may find helpful:  If you find yourself in crisis, please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline, at 988, or at 1.800.273.8255.)


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