It was a moment she’d been preparing for her the last five years – proudly representing the United States of America again at her second Olympic games… But from the her first gymnastics performance Simone Biles was aware that something wasn’t right.

It’s not like she’d hadn’t been here before – she was in the Rio Olympics back in 2016, and walked away with one bronze medal and four golds! But this time, she just wasn’t “there”. Not that physically her body wasn’t prepared, or that she hadn’t trained hard enough – all of that was in place. But, as she tearfully explained to the reporters, and to the waiting world:

I have to put my pride aside. I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being. That’s why I decided to take a step back.

SIMONE BILES

She took the tough decision to walk away – the dream of defending her Olympic titles shattered.

 

She went on to further explain her reasons on social media:

For anyone saying I quit, I didn’t quit, my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here I don’t think you realise how dangerous this is on a hard/competition surface. Nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health.

SIMONE BILES

 

There are some, of course, you are quick to criticize. She’s been called “weak” by some and even “selfish” by others. But I couldn’t disagree more. I think, in opening up about something so fresh, so personal and so vulnerable – she has shown true strength.

 

“I’m not supposed to feel this way…”

As you may or may not not know, but Simone is also a committed Christian. And this is not the first time she’s opened up some deep wounds, so that others might find hope and healing too.

 

I wonder if it may be even harder for someone like Simone – a Christian in a such prominent and public position like hers – to open up in such an honest way. After all – isn’t she a Christian? After all, aren’t you supposed to have all the answers? Aren’t you supposed to just be “strong in the Lord” at all times?

Have you ever been told what you’re just supposed to have or supposed to do?

Did it help?

No, I didn’t think so.

It doesn’t, does it?

 

But what can and does help, rather than a false show of strength is when someone honestly opens up their own wounds and shares their own weakness. In those vulnerable moments simply knowing that we are not alone, and that someone is willing to join us, is so powerful.

 

Strength in Weakness

Take the Apostle Paul for example – he is really honest about a prayer request that the Lord refused to answer in the way that Paul wanted Him to:

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 CORINTHIANS 12.7-10

In the upside-down economy of the Kingdom – when I am weak… then I am strong!

 

Maybe it is only in weakness that we finally see it – His grace is sufficient, His power is perfect.

 

These verses have been like an anchor for me so many times – and are important to return to whether we’re tempted to think: “I’m not supposed to feel this way!”

 

Patrick Regan’s book When Faith gets shaken has amazing chapter about this counter-intuitive dynamic – that when we are being our most vulnerable with others we are actually at our most bravest. When we are weak, then we are strong. True strength is found in admitting our limits, asking for help, depending on God.

 

What if your weakness, your struggles, your questions were actually a gift that you could offer to others?

What if others might find hope and healing in your scars, your wounds, your story?

Wouldn’t that be worth a moment of bravery – even if it feels incredibly vulnerable to do it?

 

If you need help today – don’t fall for the lie of false strength… be really strong – admit it, ask for help, and find the perfect strength and the all-sufficient grace of God come rushing in.

 

 

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