Aug 02

This week I read Simone Biles’s tweet that the support she has received “made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before.” This is important for her, and everyone, as we struggle through life and the pressures, expectations, and demands. We are more than how others define us.

A quote from Shannon Alder: “Your dignity can be mocked, abused, compromised, toyed with, lowered and even badmouthed, but it can never be taken from you.” It makes me realize I am more than. We all are.

The news has been flooded with news coverage of Biles. But the struggles are the same in our small, ordinary lives. There will be time when we are in situations where we find ourselves being hit by one blow after another. We feel crushed and exhausted and lost in the air. “Twisties,” we have learned, are when gymnasts are in the middle of their routine or even in the middle of a skill. Something causes them to lose awareness of where they are in the skill, and in their relation to the ground. How often do we feel lost and unable to situate ourselves? Her story is the news, but it is not more than. We all deserve respect.

But, back to when things are more than.

During the pandemic we battle fears and concerns, but God is more than our fears.

God’s grace is greater than our sin. We are more than our worst days.

Building 429 in their amazing song “Where I Belong” sing: “So when the walls come falling down on me, and when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea, I have this blessed assurance holding me.” We are more than what we deal with in this life. There is more than this.

We hear the messages, but we struggle to believe. Life invades. The hurt and pain keep their grip.

Maybe it is standing up and speaking. Otherwise we feel buried in our pain. And we need the reminders, and ways to cope. Simone Biles carries a rosary her mom gave her. Swimmer Katie Ledecky told the Catholic Standard that “I do say a prayer — or two — before any race. The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me.” It is always better to feel the support of others, but sometimes we find ourselves alone and it really between us and God.

As I get older, I realize my best friend has it exactly right. It is important to keep it simple, and stay away from the noise and drama. There was nothing simple or easy about what Simone Biles did. But it was necessary. She chose a different path and there will always be people who fault the decision to not follow the expected path. It takes strength.

When the disciples were huddled in the upper room, Jesus came to them saying, ‘Peace be with you.” Jesus comes to each of us, whispering the same thing.

May each of us find peace through our pain and through our circumstances. And may we find peace knowing we are more than.

Sheila Hellermann is a member of St. Mary Parish in Melrose. She works at St. John’s University as a program and department coordinator for several academic departments. Read more about Sheila on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.


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