As with every Olympic Games, there are many standout moments from Tokyo this year. Sifan Hassan falling and still winning gold. Tom Daley knitting from the stands after winning gold. Suni Lee’s all-around gold.
But one story will remain and have long term impact not involving a medal. When Simone Biles withdrew from her events due to the “twisties” and her concern for her mental and physical health, she set in motion a cascade of responses and conversations that will continue for years to come.
Let me be clear: I’m not here to judge. We shouldn’t pass judgement on someone else’s mental or physical health journey and what they deem necessary. What struck me most deeply, though, was when she said that the outpouring of support that she’d received made her realize that she’s “more than [her] accomplishments and gymnastics which [she] never truly believed before.”
Wow. Truth bomb.
I may not be an Olympian and understand the weight of a nation’s expectations on my shoulders, but I think we can find ourselves in a similar place to Simone’s at some point in our lives.
And it got me thinking: Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we push ourselves to breaking point (and beyond) for the approval of others? For the approval of God, even?
I’m not saying it’s unnecessary to grow and push forward and to learn and to challenge ourselves, but not to the point of losing our soul or our sanity.
I recently took a sabbatical. I had a lot of time to rest, reflect, and heal. One thing I realized quickly was that my value wasn’t found in my work. Being in full-time vocational ministry for over a decade now, I had sort of reached a place where a lot of my feelings of self-worth (both in the eyes of God and my fellow man) were found in what I do and how much I contribute. Now don’t get me wrong, the ministry work I do is valuable and it has meaning and significance, but my value as a human—as a follower of Jesus—is not found in my work or my contribution. It’s found solely in my relationship with Him. In the love He gives so freely. This is an important distinction, and one I will likely have to remind myself of again in the future.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9 that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
There are no Olympic trials or qualifiers or podiums for God’s grace. We don’t have to work for our salvation. It is given to us all. Freely.
The same is true for our value. The passage in Ephesians goes on to say that we are His masterpieces. We don’t have to work to find our value; it’s freely found in Him.
So if you find yourself in a place where you’re tired of striving all the time, or the “twisties” have finally caught up to you, maybe it’s time to rest. Open yourself up to the One who calls you beloved just as you are, and requires nothing more of you than to just be in His presence. No perfect routine or landing required.