There is a lot that I want to do and achieve and be in this life. I want to grow the youth, children, and young adult ministries at Chapel Oaks in-depth and breadth and to see all our church members fully living out their spiritual calling and gifting. I want to be an expert musician and record an album someday, maybe even go on tour. I want to write regularly and even publish books that are eye-opening and helpful.
I want to do community service that reminds people of the way Jesus served and preach sermons that touch people around the world. I want to be best friends with my family and for my kids to keep saying I’m the best dad ever as long as they live. I want my wife to feel that I am truly thoughtful of her and make her feel like the most important person on the planet. I want to exercise regularly and make some gains physically. I want to be successful financially, able to support ministry, and bless others the way others have blessed me.
Most importantly of all, I want to know and follow God’s voice, to love Him wholeheartedly, and to lead and pray for people in ways that change eternal destinies for the better. There are many other things on my list of aspirations and yet I feel like there is always more to do than I have time to do it in. Often important priorities are squeezed out by urgent things that may not be as important while the to-do list just keeps growing. I can also be very distractible, get off track and get in my own way. This can create some frustration and cause me to stop trying and to just vedge out as I swing from high aspirations and much activity to lethargy and lack of motivation. Am I the only one?
I think of Simone Biles as Ms. Gymnastics. She is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), the most decorated female gymnast in the world. But during the olympics this summer she made quite the stir by dropping out of the team all-around competition and missing some days of competition before returning to get bronze on the balance beam. Initially, sources said she stepped away because of a health issue. Biles clarified that it was specifically a mental health issue and that she was experiencing the “twisties,” in which gymnasts lose track of where they are in the air. That sounds really dangerous for her line of work. She had heard that the twisties could be triggered by stress. Biles said, "Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out. I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.” She also didn’t want to hurt the chances for her team to medal. So she dropped out.
Some thought she couldn’t take the pressure and that she was just a quitter. But can you imagine the strength it would take to drop out after training for your whole life for those moments, being so close and then having to step away because your head does something weird in the middle of those climactic anticipated moments? What about her legacy? Talk about frustration caused by the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Personally, I think Simone Biles’ legacy should be considered all the stronger because she sent the message that it is good to love yourself and to love others. There would be so much pressure to not let coaches, teammates, family, and fans down. But she loved herself enough to let herself be human rather than just the gold medal machine she’s expected to be. She also loved her neighbors as herself. Dropping out was what was best for her team. She didn’t let pride for her own contribution take away from the success of the team. In stepping away, she actually helped them. She also loved all those who look up to her by showing them a different kind of strength, the kind that says no when it would be hard to do so.
Some would say it is not healthy to do anything unless you do it for yourself. I would say the best reason to do anything is because of love; healthy love for self, loving others as yourself and loving God supremely. The Bible calls us to do this when it says to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our minds, all our strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Simone and the rest of us, we’re all human and experience a gap between where we are and where we want to be. The big question we need to ask ourselves is why; why do I want to do this list of things? Is it to be famous and leave an impressive legacy or is it God-inspired love?
May we allow ourselves to receive love from God, others, and even ourselves in our moments of frustration and despair because love is always best for all. It may not lead to a checkmark beside everything on your to-do list but it will cause You to leave a mark on this planet that is eternal and better than you could ever plan by fulfilling God’s main to-do for you day by day. He would have you love. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, love is the greatest. At any moment God can close the gap and make His loving will for you and those around you a reality as we open ourselves up to Him. Let’s all stop being frustrated and overly task-oriented and start living in intentional love for ourselves and for all today.
After all, isn’t love the greatest legacy you could ever leave? I think Jesus showed us it is.
- Pastor Nick