Monika Korra: Kill the Silence Book Review (Part 2) – Identity and Control

Monika Korra is currently the Norwegian Junior National cross country ski coach. As a sophomore cross country runner at SMU in Texas in 2009, she was raped while coming home from a party. Her story of the events and her recovery and victory our outlined in the narrative, Kill the Silence, which was published in 2015. This is part 2 of my reflections on poignant excerpts from this text. 

Page 98-99 (This comes after Korra attempts to go on a run and only makes it 15 minutes, a result of the cumulative fatigue from medication, stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep. The realization of a different type of obstacle(s) is laid out):

My whole life was taken up with being a runner, and as great as it was to self-identify as someone who was disciplined, goal-oriented, and all the rest, I was frightened by the thought that I might have to give up the rest of it as well – the routine, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose and place and reason for being that had accumulated over time.

I was used to fighting against fatigue, distraction, temptation, and soreness to go on a run or do some other kind of workout. ….I felt as though my identity was shifting beneath my feet, and I felt powerless against the forces that were tyring to reshape me. 

Much of that had to do with confidence and control. I’d pushed my body through all kinds of walls before to find another burst of energy to go longer and faster…..We (as athletes) were the ones in control, we still determined what all our boundaries were. After the rape, that loss of control, that feeling that someone else could step beyond my boundaries, push me to do things I didn’t want to do at all, altered my perceptions immeasurably. 

….For the first time in a very, very long time, maybe for the first time every, a dreaded though too hold: What if effort didn’t matter. What if no matter how hard you worked or tried, or how meticulously you scheduled and planned, things beyond your control could happen and ruin everything you’d hoped for and dreamed and planned?What if I’d been fooling myself all along and being in control was really something freakish, absurd, something I’d just imagined, something horrific and horrible and not helpful. 

 

The two major issues to dissect from this excerpt are identity and control. It is fascinating for me as a reader to hop inside the mind of someone else who, while sharing a few of the same lenses as me (distance runner, type A academically, combination introvert and extrovert, loving and supporting family), might not be wearing the same glasses frame when it comes to world view (in other words, I don’t think Korra’s ultimate authority, at least at this stage in her life, is the Bible). It is this truth that becomes evident as she ponders her identity and control (or lack thereof).

Many dedicated and driven athletes end up in a place where their identity and sense of purpose and value to the world is wrapped up in their sport in some capacity, whether it is the literal trophies and successes they earn from them, the body image they develop them, or the sense of belonging or people they meet through them. When this is taken away, from losing, injury, or removal from a team, that is the low moment where an athlete ends up finally coming to grip with this problem. And it is a problem. Your identity can’t be placed in sports. In fact, it can’t be placed in anything that is on this earth. Because, in the end, those things burn. They don’t, as Ephesians says, become refined in the fire. If you have put your identity in your job, that is bound to be empty. In your family, the kids you have, or the home you’ve built….not going to work either.

The only thing we should place our identity in is something the person who is sovereign over all and created everything has given to us: an identity of being a sanctified and saved member of God’s family by the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross. When we turn our life over to God, no matter what is going on in our lives and on the earth, when we look at the ultimate judge – the only person whose judgement is going to mean anything in the end anyone – and ask, “Who am I?” we get the answer, “I child of God.” Without that, how can you possibly even dare to ever ask that question. It terrifies me to think about living each day without that security. Think about it. If you ask that question, “Who am I,” and answer: “The greatest quarterback in NFL history,” or “the best distance runner in the world,” you have two choices: continue to sustain that level of “performance,” (and believe that, even if you can, it even MATTERS!) or lose… your identity.

Now, I’m a Christian, and I hold to the truth of the Bible, and I believe my identity is in what Jesus has done for me, not anything I perceive to be what I have done here on earth, but again, actually walking with that confidence is a lifelong struggle. So to read about someone else coming to the realization of this, albiet from a different way – in this case, Korra’s athletics and sense of control and identity being wrapped together with it were seemingly being torn from her as a result of being raped – was interesting, and I think comforting. Other athletes think about this, and they don’t all think about it when they are injured and CAN’T run or compete, which has been the times where I have dwelt on it.

I think it is interesting how Korra moves right into the next issue of control. They are connected. Up to this point, her identity has been something she CAN control – or at least she has perceived at that way. Running has been her identity, and getting better at running has been something she has had control over. Unfortunately, her fear – that maybe EVERYTHING is beyond her control – is a total TRUTH.

Nothing was ever in her control. Even those moments she references in workouts where she pushed herself to one more rep and got better. She is right in saying that her coaches didn’t enable or make her do that. It was her decision. But even the ability to make that decision, even the ability to have her heart beat, to blink her eyes, to have her body function as it ‘should’ is not something she has any control over.

We live in a world today where we are completely dull to the amazing hand God has on ….well, everything.

Things as basic as a sunrise, our pulse, or the ability to swallow are more viewed like ‘rights.’ We don’t stop and recognize that God is sovereign over those things, too. With that in mind, it is easy to see how we as a world can start to think that things like that promotion at work, the two-year old twins we are raising, or actions as we drive to the grocery store are things ‘we have control over’ or ‘decided’ or ‘earned.’ I know most people think that, but I have to say, they are just in for a rude awakening, to be honest, when they realize it simply isn’t true. I hope and pray those who are lost in this way can find the truly comforting knowledge that NO we DON’T have control over ANYTHING and thank goodness for it…Instead, we have an omnipotent, perfect God who created everything, has all power and authority, to ‘run’ the world how he sees fit. Oh and by the way He loves us….so He actually wants what is best for us — phew I should throw that in their — it isn’t like we have a cruel dictator god.

While, I sort of went down a preaching road with this post. Sorry if that turned you away and you couldn’t finish it. I guess I couldn’t control that to begin with anyway.

 

 

Editor’s note: This was sitting in the ‘drafts’ area of my site collecting dust. I’m going to post as is and hope it impacts someone’s life in a positive way!

 

Ryan

 

 

Published by rsederquist

My name is Ryan Sederquist.  I am a man of many passions and dreams, and this website is the outlet for many of them. I am currently teaching 5th grade remotely in the Adams12 school district in Colorado. I have been an elementary music teacher in Alamosa, Colorado, as well as a 7-12 band director at Lake County High School in Leadville, Colorado. I am also in the final, final stages of acquiring my M.S. in Exercise Science from Adams State University. In 2018-2019, we spent a year in Presque Isle, Maine as I coached the UMPI Nordic ski team. I currently live in Leadville, Colorado with my wife Christie, a special education teacher, and our border collie-German shepherd mix, Ajee. Even though it is not my full-time job, ever since I was a child, I had the desire to do one of three things professionally - pro sports, writing about pro sports, or being a radio talk show host. This website is where I pretend to do the latter two, and when I'm out pretending to do the former, I listen to podcasts, think about topics, and pursue my wild dream of someday, at some event, in either running, biking, or skiing, wearing a team USA uniform. This website contains articles, podcasts, pictures, and journal entries that have to do with my passion and involvement in endurance sports. Our flagship project is the Seder Skier Podcast, which talks mostly about nordic skiing and attempts to interview influential individuals in the ski world. I also rant about the Big 4 sports, with a lean towards Minnesota teams (Vikings, Twins, Twolves, and MN Distance Running). I sometimes try to write Sports Illustrated like 'feature' articles about athletes as well. In addition to a focus on sports, you will find the occasional article or show that discusses the intersection of theology and society ...which is ...obviously everywhere. We place these in our Skieologians podcast. The heading at the top of my homepage reads, "Search for Truth. Play with purpose. Strive for success." It is the underlying theme for my coaching philosophy, which can be downloaded from this site. Basically, I'm always looking to search for the truth in my pursuit of knowledge, whether that is knowledge regarding the best methods for waxing skis, training a quarter miler, or defending my Christian apologetic. Searching implies a dedicated pursuit for knowledge, and that is what I'm about and what this site is about, even if it is simply for providing viewers with an accurate description of a product. Play with purpose has to do with living out our passions because they are fun. I ski because its fun. I play music and teach young kids because there is joy in it. This blog is about celebrating the joy and fun that inherently exists in the pursuit of excellence and in the activities themselves. Finally, strive for success is built on the principle that true success is the realization that we gave 100% effort to become the best that we could possible be. It requires 100% in preparation, competition, reflection, mental effort, etc. If something is worth doing, I believe it is worth doing with that level of effort. Someday, I hope to race the Visma Classics - the entire season, wear a Team USA singlet, and have a job that involves writing or talking about sports or theology all day. If you know of any body I can reach out to to help me accomplish these goals, please email me at sederquistrd@grizzlies.adams.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: