The First Simone Biles
With football season in high gear and the presidential election drawing ever closer, the Summer Olympics are already fading into memory. Yet I couldn’t let them pass without commenting on the special feelings they left millions with—like me, awed by the incredible athletic talents displayed in Rio de Janeiro.
Ironically, our Olympics viewing tended to come in five-minute bursts, during a break from whatever we were watching that evening or before we turned in for the night.
Yet during those interludes I managed to catch Usain Bolt decimating the field in the 200-meter race, Michael Phelps’ gold-medal-winning performance during the relay race where he overtook an Australian swimmer, and the USA’s breathtaking female gymnasts.
First in Her Class
Until this year’s Olympics the main gymnast’s name I knew belonged to Gabby Douglas, so the talents of Simone Biles proved a pleasant surprise. Especially her ability to overcome any missteps or shaky moments.
The night we watched her do a double-backwards-flip-and-somersault before landing gracefully, I looked at my wife and commented, “I would kill myself if I tried to do a move like that.”
Yet, it was a comment that I saw in Time magazine after the Olympics that I found so interesting. “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps,” she commented. “I’m the first Simone Biles.”
No matter what she does in the future, I think Biles has the right idea about life in general. Namely, to be the best you can without looking around and wondering what everyone else is doing, or how you measure up.
Paul discussed the folly of comparing ourselves with each other: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV).
Judging our achievements in life by whether we win gold medals, Academy Awards, Grammies, Emmys or whatever other measure you consider the “ultimate” is a prescription for disaster.
I still remember the NASCAR driver I interviewed years ago who talked about the first time he won a race and how empty he felt afterwards. Only when he turned his eyes on God and the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross did he find the joy and fulfillment he sought in life.
I know the feeling. I used to crave worldly achievements and thought that more money could take care of all my problems. That is, until I discovered there were no honors I could win or fortunes I could find that could bring the elusive peace that I sought.
As the years slide by faster than I ever dreamed, I know too that it isn’t how much I collect but how much I leave behind that will make a lasting difference. Nor do I have to compare myself to anyone else as I head for the finish line.