Simone Biles, the most lauded U.S. gymnast in history, unexpectedly pulled out of the women’s team competition at the Tokyo Olympics, citing concerns about her mental health. Good for her. It has been encouraging to watch the Olympic community of athletes rally to support her decision. Good for them. It has been refreshing to read the tweets of many Americans who share her struggle. Good for us.
The Ultimate Winner
Simone has won 36 total medals during her career — 27 gold, five silver, and four bronze. Of those 36 medals, she won five at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Four of those five medals were gold while one was bronze.
In addition to her Olympic achievements, she has taken home 19 goal medals at the World Gymnastics Championships. She has won gold in the all-around competition in her last five appearances in the World Championship. She hasn’t lost an all-around competition since 2013.
Simone Biles has absolutely nothing to prove.
She is greatness in motion and has already given us more magical and exhilarating moments than we deserve.
She has already overcome and accomplished more in her short life than most will ever know.
She has already dazzled us and left us breathless with her beauty, poise, and elegance far beyond our ability to repay.
Simone Biles owes us absolutely nothing.
That’s why her decision to step away from the Olympics is so astounding.
“I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surfaces,” Simone said (about her particular struggle with a condition known as “twisties”), “Nor do I have to explain why I put my health first. Physical health is mental health.”
This latest and bravest decision may very well be her greatest gift to us. A gift that will far outlast her triple twisting-double somersault on floor exercise, or her double twisting-double somersault balance beam dismount (both of which should and probably will be named after her).
To be human is to be broken and Simone has given us permission to be human.
Five Things Jesus Taught Us
If you are struggling with mental health issues or someone you love is — here are five things to remember and/or share with them.
1. It’s OK to not be okay.
Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Denial gets you nowhere.
There was only one perfect person — and you’re not him. We all have our struggles and yours is no more “shameful” than mine.
2. Don’t believe everything you think.
Mental illness has a way of sending your brain terrible messages that are simply NOT true.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus says that you are a beloved child of God (John 16:26).
Listen to him.
3. You deserve to get help.
Jesus died for you. You are important and you are loved.
You may feel like you are a burden or like people are tired of you — but, remember this — Jesus hears every cry — He has proclaimed (from the cross) that you are of infinite worth to God.
We ALL need help at one time or another. You deserve the very best help available. Let people help you!
4. Work to be happy. Perfection is a delusion.
Staying healthy is hard work. I may have to lose 20 pounds for a healthier life, but my happiness cannot depend on it.
I may never lose 20 pounds. That’s okay.
I want to strive to be better tomorrow while I rejoice for who I am today.
5. Be grateful for every day.
It’s more difficult to be consumed with your struggles when you are focused on all the reasons you are blessed.
Make a list. Keep a “Blessings Journal” where you document all the good things that are happening in your life.
Find a reason to be grateful.
Most of all, be grateful that you can go to Jesus every day. He never gets tired of hearing from you and he will never leave you alone — nothing can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:38-39).
Simone has taught us what it looks like to overcome in life. She has taught us what it looks like to win.
This year she has taught us what it looks like to be human.
And for that, we should be forever grateful.