Simone Biles did the right thing this week. No question. She did the right thing by stepping down from her physical responsibilities at the Tokyo Olympics this year. Here’s why it matters.
Simone Biles has been heralded for years as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) of gymnastics. She’s so good, they basically curved the scores to give the others a chance. I admit, I’m kind of a fan. I love to watch her routines. She’s this powerhouse who would have to wear 4-inch heels just to reach 5 feet. It’s hard to believe anyone could manage the feats she does so effortlessly, but seeing this tiny human pull off what no other gymnast of any size has ever accomplished . . . well it’s mesmerizing.
Simone’s skill is unmatched and she will absolutely be one of the GOATs of the sport forever. But she is also a young woman who is just 24 years old, a survivor of sexual assault, and a former foster child. Simone is more than that too though. She’s a girlfriend, a sister, a friend, a daughter, a granddaughter, a student . . . she’s way more than just the world’s most accomplished gymnast.
When she decided to bow out of the competition, she made a clear statement: There is no such thing as a superhuman. Even if you are phenomenal in a thousand ways, you still get disoriented, overwhelmed, lonely, or sad. So even if the entire world is watching you, you don’t have to fake it until you make it. You don’t have to work through it. You really can listen to your body, not the paparazzi. You really can say aloud, “This is not working for me. I need to rest.”
And the fact that the GOAT said it, means that many of us will hear it. It means that kids who have been operating on minutes of sleep so they can over-achieve, might lie down for a nap. It means that the over-committed who juggle 1000 things might turn down the next request. Workaholics might take a vacation. Parents might not sign their kids up for activities that would push them too far. After all, if Simone Biles can take a break, being kind to oneself must be a part of greatness.
You’ve heard me say it countless times: “That perfect human thing was a one-and-done deal.” (Hint: It was Jesus–not any of us.) Simone Biles knew better than anyone that she is, in fact, vincible. So she did the right thing, and stepped down. In doing so, she gave the rest of us permission also to stop acting like we can do it all. What a gift!
The Apostle Paul did the same thing in his ministry. He knew full well that he was not even close to perfect. He said this, “Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) Plus, if you were raised in the church, you’ve been singing it your whole life: “Little ones to [Jesus] belong, they are weak but [Jesus] is strong.”
So go ahead. Relax. Jesus will continue being the perfect one so you don’t have to be–even if you are the GOAT.