Grace ambassador, Jordan Gray, had the opportunity to provide viewers with an enlightening interview where Jordan liked to claim, “oh how the tables turn,” as she spoke with fellow grace ambassador, Christian Taylor, about his faith journey while triaging through the pillars and challenges of life.
Christian Taylor is an American track and field athlete specializing in the triple jump. Taylor was born into a deeply Christian family in Fayetteville, Georgia. His parents wouldn’t let him play video games throughout his childhood and told him to simply, get outside. In this, Taylor found that he had a “typical all-American childhood,” where he was graced with trying all sports and went through a process of elimination until he found his niche. Finding his first love to be soccer, but unable to master the side-to-side nature of the sport, he recognized his strengths to be in going in a straight line, leading him to the elements of cross country and then ultimately to Track and Field. After setting records all over the track and runway in high school, he went on to attend college at the University of Florida where he found himself with the security of a track and field scholarship for three years, until he decided to take a leap of faith and became a professional athlete.
With a different leap than Taylor typically finds himself encountering while on the runway, he stepped towards his faith once more and landed a deeper relationship with God, who stayed with him, and continues to stay with him, through his athletic and faith journey. With his new partner, Taylor went on to become the 2011 triple jump World Champion, and the rest is history. Now as a holder of four World Champion gold titles and two Olympic gold medals, Taylor was put to the ultimate test in which he now calls his “character building season” after rupturing his achilles tendon in an event in Ostrava, putting him out of the Tokyo Olympic games.
“Why now God?” A simple question Taylor asked after the injury, but he found that he no longer has to ask “why” but rather, “okay God, what do you want me to do with this?” Six months later, Taylor now sees that, through his faith, God was protecting him, saving him from something bigger out there. During his character-building season, Taylor found a deeper connection with God and saw that his faith has taken him leaps and bounds over the years. Taylor commented on people telling him that he competed differently than all the other athletes. Humbling himself, Taylor only had one answer to this comment to highlight his most fulfilling time about using his gifts as an athlete, and that was to say God’s love was shining through in the way he competed. “My career is not about me, it is bigger than me…I can be an inspiration, a sliver of hope. [If I’m competing differently] it’s gotta be God.” This fulfilling nature has shown Taylor that there is a level of peace; that “in those moments when fear attacks, I can pause and leave it to God; it is less on my shoulders…and I can say that I’m not only competing for someone, but with someone.”
With all the fame comes the challenge of handling humility versus pride, but to Taylor, with his faith and in his faith, he says that this challenge is quite easy. “When you recognize where your gifts come from and that you have nothing to do with it, then you can say thank you God—if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have made it to this point.” God gives us gifts. All he wants is to see us use those gifts and to journey through life alongside us; as Taylor says, “God just wants to do life with you; he wants to have that intimate relationship with you—that is humility in itself.”
As a grace ambassador finding God again and strengthening his faith journey, allowing God to walk side-by-side with him, Taylor was asked what this Grace of God meant to him, in which Taylor was quick to reply that Grace is a gift we do not deserve but are fortunate to have. Grace, as Taylor describes, is like a blanket; a blanket of forgiveness; a blanket of second chances; it is God’s way of saying he loves us and knows we are going to mess up, but he will still be there for us. God will always be by our side, aiding in all we ask of him. He will be there in the dark time, in the light times, and in the times when we need him most.
When asked what was something Taylor was passionate about that kept him up at night, his immediate response was “being a good mentor.” Taylor aims that through his actions and with the help of God, he can make a positive impact on the next generation. Taylor wants to show that it is okay to fail; we will not always succeed, but it is not how you handle it that builds you up, rather how you respond to it. There will be falls, there will be breaks, there will be disappointments no matter who you are, but keep your eyes up and you will go where your eyes are, the same can be said for your heart projection. Live with heaven in view and don’t be afraid to take a step back and say “God, I need you to check my heart. If you see something, shine a light on it so that I can fix it.” Before Gray and Taylor ended their talk, Taylor graced his viewers with two final statements, first, some words of encouragement, and second, a call for prayer. Taylor left his listeners with the advice to not be scared; to ask the hard questions and to challenge when you do not know something. He advised that the best decision is to put God first and then to get connected. “We are not meant to do life alone,” Taylor says, “you never know what one reach out could do to someone’s life.” Finally, Taylor ended his talk with a call to prayer. He asked those watching, listening, and reading to pray for those who may have lost joy during this pandemic time; that we pray for people to find peace and joy in the hardships and to not let the devil steal your joy—happiness is a choice. From success to hardships to finding God and now growing in character, Taylor was glad to have the tables turned and share his insight with the world.