Eugene Cho

the closest i got to the olympics

I don’t share this too often because it’s a reminder of the ugly monster called the “fear of failure” that still occasionally creeps up in my life.

It’s good that I’m on sabbatical right now because my entire family and I got really consumed by the Beijing Olympics.  Actually, it was a great family bonding event – watching the events, cheering for athletes, learning about stories, and soaking in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.  The Olympics were great but then again, when you [China] spend a total of 44 billion dollars on hosting the Olympics, it better be good.

Perhaps like many others, I had dreams of being a future Olympian when I was a young boy.  I grew up loving sports and still do. It was my escape for so many things including my identity crisis as an immigrant.  During middle school, interestingly enough,  I was voted both the shyest and most athletic person.  During high school, I lettered 9 times but the sport I most excelled in was fencing.  I was called “Little Flying Warrior” way before the Chinese game that nickname to Kobe Bryant.:)

In 1989, I qualified for the U.S. Junior Olympic Championships.  I had the future lined up.  I would make the U.S. Junior Olympic team, receive a Division I fencing scholarship, and eventually become an Olympian.  The problem was I never got to the 1st phase.  I lost in the quarterfinals and placed 21st in the Junior Olympics.  That was the closest I got to the Olympics.

I was pretty discouraged and quit fencing altogether later that year.  That competition was my last offical fencing bout.

Why did i quit?  Losing sucked and I was afraid to lose again.  I was afraid to fail and that fear of failure paralyzed me.  I have numerous regrets in my life and quitting fencing is one of them.  I can easily concede that I would have never made the Olympics.  Not even close.  But the consistent lessons I’ve learned then and now is that the process, experience, and journey is as, if not, more important than the end result.

While I do have my list of regrets, I’m trying to live my life with hopes of not adding too much to that list.  Here’s to our dreams, goals, and aspirations.  May we all continue to pursue them – in hopes of honoring Christ through our very lives.

Questions:

  • Want to share one or two of your regrets?
  • How about a dream or aspiration you hope to pursue?

————————————

[photo from Getty Images]

Filed under: family, sports, ,

9 Responses

  1. JEN WALTERS says:

    PASTOR CHO, JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU HOW ENCOURAGING IT IS TO HEAR SOMEONE LIKE YOU WHO HAS ACCOMPLISHED SO MUCH TALK ABOUT HIS FAILURES. (EVEN THOUGH TO ME IT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE MUCH OF A FAILURE TO MAKE IT TO THE JUNIOR OLYMPICS) YOUR BLOG REALLY HELPS ME SEE THAT IM NOT THE ONLY ONE AFRAID OF DOING THINGS BECAUSE I MIGHT FAIL AT IT. I’M AT A CROSS ROAD RIGHT NOW WITH MY KIDS GETTING OLDER I CAN GO BACK TO WORK AFTER A LONG ‘BREAK’ LOL! OR GO TO SCHOOL. GULP! HOPE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY ARE FEELING RESTED FROM YOUR SABBATICAL, CANT WAIT TO HAVE YOU BACK. JEN WALTERS

  2. Randall says:

    A friend asked me once, “what do you regret more: the things you’ve done or the things you didn’t do?” And I think the question was more important than the answer. I keep it in the back of my mind and think about it when trying to make big decisions.

    Questions:
    Want to share one or two of your regrets?
    How about a dream or aspiration you hope to pursue?

    * I regret not pursuing that girl, thinking that nice guys just let them go…I mean I’m not stalker material but I really could/should have tried harder. Nuf said.
    * I want to change the world.

  3. Eddie says:

    I regret not writing more. I keep telling myself I’ll start a blog to get started. As for hopes and dreams, I guess it’s related to the first.

  4. miles says:

    Mahalo for the inspiration P.E. I guess there’s not a lot of aspirations that i don’t take risks or give up on. Is there a point when it works in reverse and you persue things too much? =-)

  5. Blake says:

    I regret choosing to not pursuing Tae Kwon Do any further when I was 7 or 8. I could have been a black-belt by the time I was 10 . However, I also don’t regret the choice I made to play in a softball with my best friends instead. Just wish I could have done both.

    I dream about getting my private pilot’s license one day and maybe using that to share the love of flying with inner city kids.

  6. Ben says:

    Given your b-ball court skills back in the days, I can certainly believe you had the athleticism to succeed at a high level in a number of sports.

    You also have a great talent at public speaking and being credible. I really do feel you’ve reached the Olympics in your field which to many (including myself) is greater than the athletic Olympics. Keep up the good work.

    Too bad Korea couldn’t get a W v. Cameroon.

  7. sis says:

    I once had numerous regrets, and adding them up, I felt like a failure. God has healed me. I am beginning to notice how God is now USING even my failures!

    1. I am LEARNING from past mistakes and regrets
    2. I am able to empathize with others at a deeper level
    3. I am witnessing how God is turning many of my failures around

    God is able to make drastic changes, and most of all, HE HAS CHANGED ME.

    Now isn’t that good, or what?

  8. Eugene, I love your blog, and I wish I had more free time to get over here more often. My big regret is wasting time thinking about my failures so that I’m afraid to try again. But I’m working on it! It’s been a rough couple of years for us. But I have to believe God has a plan somewhere in all this mess. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Jason Gee says:

    Eugene did u fence for lowell high? If so do u remember me as ur team? I have a request if u know any good coaches for a niece of mine.

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One Day’s Wages

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Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother. I love all the free amazing views in our Evergreen State. #RattlesnakeLedge

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