Helpful Heel

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Have you ever broken a bone? I’m an ex-gymnast, so broken bones have been part of my daily routine. In ten years of being a competitive gymnast, I have pretty much covered every inch of my body with some sort of injury. I’ve hyper-extended elbows, torn my Achilles tendon and broken fingers, toes, ankles…and even my back…twice. It isn’t a sport for the meek at heart for sure, but it is also a sport that when it grabs you, it really grabs you.
Gymnastics is truly a crazy sport, not just for what it does to your body, but it’s a commitment most normal people would never sign up for. Twenty plus hours in the gym, failing more than you succeed. Trying to master a skill that is just within reach…it’s honestly addicting. So addicting that I trained myself for ten years, coached for another ten years, took a break to have two children and now I am back in the gym 18 hours a week coaching my 12 year old daughter. We started this venture when she was three, which giving me a total of 29 years of my life in this simple sport.
Growing up gymnastics was my life. I represented my province at many National Championships, and was the captain of my province’s Canada Games team. Back then, all I had time in my life for was gymnastics and youth group. I wasn’t your typical teen that chose the regular teen’s life of partying and hanging out with friends, I was focused on my goals as a gymnast.
Years later, I’m now the co-head coach at our local gym, but I am also a full time teacher, a wife, a mom to a very active son who plays a multitude of sports and my little budding gymnast, and when time permits, I try to be a friend…but that usually doesn’t get much time on my busy schedule. I’m the type of person that gives a 110% to something…but when you have this much on your plate, it’s hard to give 110% to something without something else suffering…which it did.
A year and a half ago I was trying to get one of my athletes to the National Championships and make the Canada Games team. I became obsessed, like it was myself trying to make that team all over again. I wanted it more than my athlete and little did I realize that it was monopolizing my entire life. During this time of obsession and the most intense competition phase, I was spotting a girl the same size as myself and fell off the spotting block and broke my heel and another bone in my foot. I was going to be off my foot for six weeks. I was devastated! As my six weeks ticked slowly by, other things in my life started to unravel, including my children, my marriage…really, my entire world.
As I study the book of Exodus, and read all about Moses’ battle against the Pharaoh and all the plagues that were released onto Egypt by God I realize that this battle wasn’t against flesh and blood, it was against the dark spiritual forces of evil. The Egyptians worshiped over 80 major gods and goddesses. These plagues were God’s way of showing his power and how he will eliminate any false gods in your life. Whatever you make your God, the true God will destroy.
It hit me! Isaiah 45:5 says, “I am God, the only God there is. Besides me there are no real gods. I’m the one who armed you for this work, though you don’t even know me.” I was making gymnastics more important than God, and he destroyed it…well, he broke my heel so that I had to slow down, and realize that I had my priorities all wrong. Instead of focusing all my time on gymnastics, I should be focusing on God, reading, praying, meditating, and then focusing on my husband and children.
Having a broken heel, I couldn’t teach, so I was forced to stay at home all day. I had no idea how much I would love being a stay-at-home mom and a doting wife. Breaking my heel was the best thing that happened to me. It opened my eyes to align my priorities. Gymnastics wasn’t a God to me, but it became an idol in my life that I let monopolizing my time that I should have been devoting to more important things.
Today, God blessed me with a constant reminder to keep my priorities in line as I still have that nagging, lingering, ever so slight pain in my once broken heel. Do you have an idol in your life, taking up your precious time? Maybe it is social media, a sport like myself, or even shopping…I do love a good bout of online shopping, but what woman doesn’t? Please take the time to prioritize your life before God destroys something in your life to give you a gentle reminder to focus on what is truly important…HIM!

~Toby Hale

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