I am an Olympics fanatic. My first crush was Apollo Ohno (speed skater) and I fell in love with him during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. I followed Shawn Johnson’sstory during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and am convinced we will be BFFs in heaven. And when I was in elementary school, I dreamed about winning a gold medal in gymnastics even though I couldn’t land a cartwheel. (still can’t)
So when the Olympic games rolled around this year, I was all in. Honestly, the fact that we missed the opening ceremony because we were in Paris genuinely made me sad. (I realize that most people think this is silly because I was in Paris, but I’m Olympics OBSESSED. Try to understand)
My favorite event of the summer games is always gymnastics. There’s something mesmerizing about how graceful and strong the women are that makes me emotional every time. So before the games, I had been keeping up with Simone Biles, and was excited to see her compete. When the games started, I began following the U.S. team members on social media, because I find that it’s even more fun to cheer someone on when you know their story.
And I was shocked, honestly. Every single member of the U.S. team has a personal faith. Aly Raisman is the only one who is not a Christian, and she’s very proud of her Jewish heritage. They are so vocal about giving God glory that it’s humbling. Even when they fail, or they are disappointed in their performances, they give God glory and share Bible verses on their various accounts.
Simone Biles’ story is even more heartwarming. Her mother was a drug addict, and she was placed in foster care. She had no relationship with her father. But her grandparents decided to take in Simone and her siblings and raise them as their own children. They took her to church, and encouraged her to pursue gymnastics. Simone has every right to be bitter and defeated. Yet, she recognizes grace. She is a product of Christian parents who value life, love, and family. That’s a redemption story. Hers is a beautiful picture of how Jesus loves and chooses us.
Can you even imagine the 2016 games without Simone Biles? I can’t. But if her grandparents hadn’t chosen to graciously adopt their daughter’s children, we might be experiencing gymnastics world with such a powerhouse.
Her story makes me want to live graciously. To see opportunity where some would see failure. To encourage everyone to choose life, to tell those who feel worthless: you matter. Everyone’s life has purpose.
Simone Biles’ testimony is beautiful and an incredible testament to her parents’ faith. It’s an honor to see her compete.
With two more events left, let’s cheer her on. Go Team USA!
(image from Simone Biles’ personal Instagram account)