We know we left you hanging with part 1 of Pauly’s story. Don’t worry! Part 2 is here! She was kicked off the gymnastics team in college, then what happens? Pauly spent time wondering what she wanted to do with her life and who she wanted to be. Learn more in this week’s episode of Walking Our Talk.
Did you miss part 1? Watch and listen to the beginning of Paulys story to catch up: Pauly’s Testimony | Part 1
Note: Below is a transcription of this Walking Our Talk podcast. Please excuse any grammatical or punctuation flaws, as the transcription is a written version of our fluid conversation.
Pauly [00:00:07] Welcome to walking our talk with Alan and Pauly Heller, join our conversation as we discuss practical ways to apply spiritual principles to your everyday life and help you walk your talk one step at a time.
Alan [00:00:26] Welcome. This is Alan Heller and we are walking our talk and I have Pauly in the studio again.
Pauly [00:00:32] Hello.
Alan [00:00:33] And we left off with a cliffhanger with Paul meeting B.G., which she was the assistant coach of Penn State’s gymnastic team, his wife. And she had totally changed since the last time Paul had seen her. And Paul was talking about how she just emanated love. If you looked in the dictionary and you saw Love B.G.’s name would be right next to it.
Pauly [00:01:00] Right BG is probably the most loving, gentle spirit of a person that I have ever met.
Alan [00:01:12] So to recap for people that may not have heard the podcast last time you grew up in a Jewish family, conservative Jewish family in southwestern P.A. and you went to Springfield College, you danced since you were three years old and did acrobatics, but it wasn’t going to go anywhere after that. And so you got into gymnastics, which gymnastics was just starting to become a thing at that time.
Pauly [00:01:40] Well, and the interesting thing about getting on the gymnastics team at Springfield is that normally I would not have stood a chance of making a gymnastics team because I really knew very little about gymnastics. I didn’t even have a floor exercise routine. But I could do handstands, cartwheels.
Alan [00:02:02] All the things you trained for in dancing.
Pauly [00:02:04] That’s right. But the year before I was a freshman, there was a whole group of gymnasts, girl gymnasts, who had some kind of falling out and quit the gymnastics.
Alan [00:02:21] So it left room for you.
Pauly [00:02:22] So, yeah, there was a lot of room for freshmen on the gymnastics team. And when I tried out, the coach said, well, you know, normally you would not make the team, but I’m going to give you a chance.
Alan [00:02:34] Alright. So you’re on the team, but then you get you’re being taken out to the local establishment, a bar, um, by the star gymnast who was almost Olympic quality. And the coach thought that you were the bad influence on her and then you ended up getting kicked off the gymnastic team and, um, later, you know, got involved with taking over an administration building, et cetera. We’ll get beyond there to you leave Springfield. You go work at this camp with the assistant coach of Penn State and you meet BG. So that’s where we are.
Pauly [00:03:17] That’s right. That’s right. So I was living at the camp and working for Ed and who also had a gymnastics center in State College. So I would go back and forth between the camp.
Alan [00:03:35] Like a 45-minute drive out to Woodward, which was Amish country.
Pauly [00:03:41] Right. Right. And it was Amish country and it was like no matter how you drove, it took 45 minutes. It was a two-lane road, most of the way going through farmland. And one day I, I drove into town from the camp and that day I, I just wasn’t having a good day. I was feeling very very convicted for my way of life, I had become uncomfortable with the way that I was living and I kind of felt like a hypocrite.
Pauly [00:04:31] I guess I kind of I need to backtrack a little bit because. As a graduation present, my grandfather had given me a trip to Europe and he thought that I would be spending maybe three weeks in hotels and as it turned out, somebody gave my roommate that I was traveling with a little tent, a little pop-up tent. And so we ended up staying in campgrounds all across Europe. And I mean, if you can imagine, campgrounds in the middle of Paris, campgrounds on the edge of London. Campgrounds, you know, in Switzerland, everywhere we went, we stayed in these campgrounds.
Alan [00:05:21] So you got to go to more places on the cheap.
Pauly [00:05:25] Yes. And we had Eurail passes that allowed us to travel through the night and start, you know, wake up in the morning and be in another city. And we did a lot of walking and we met a lot of people and we went through lots of churches and cathedrals.
Alan [00:05:45] What did you think about those coming from a Jewish background?
Pauly [00:05:47] Well, the interesting thing to me was how much artwork there was that depicted all of these people with halos around their heads.
Alan [00:06:00] What did you think they were?
Pauly [00:06:01] I didn’t know who anybody was. I couldn’t figure out who. I didn’t know which one was Jesus and which one. I didn’t even know what the word apostle meant. I didn’t know who anybody in the New Testament was.
Alan [00:06:15] So you saw these people with halos and was trying to figure it out.
Pauly [00:06:19] Or or are these people I mean, I just really didn’t know. And in the meantime, as we traveled, my friend Lynn and I did a lot of talking. We talked about our lives and we talked about how insecure I was.
Alan [00:06:36] And you were a melancholy person.
Pauly [00:06:38] I was. And Lynn was very positive and confident. And I thought it was because she had a boyfriend. But as long as I was traveling with her, I felt confident, too. But once we got back home again and I was left with just myself, no plan for my life. No, no job. I realized as a result of my student teaching experience that I really didn’t want to stand in front of large groups of high school students and teach English. And I just didn’t know what I was going to do. And in the end, that’s when I remembered that Ed Isabel said if I ever wanted to go back and work for him, that I could go back to Woodward.
Alan [00:07:36] And wasn’t there also during that time, weren’t you reading?
Pauly [00:07:40] Oh, you’re right. You’re right. You know, you remember my story. Yes. Linda and I were traveling. I was reading Dostoyevsky, so I read Crime and Punishment. I read The Idiot. I read The Brothers Karamazov.
Alan [00:07:58] Aren’t you also reading the Bible just as literature or something or not yet.
Pauly [00:08:02] No, not yet. But The Brothers Karamazov is a very interesting story where there are four brothers who are who all represent totally different types of people and segments of society. But the most appealing character to me was a brother who was a priest named Alyosha, and he really preached a very strong gospel in this book. But I didn’t even know I was reading the Gospels.
Alan [00:08:33] It was just good Irish literature to you or to Russian literature?
Pauly [00:08:38] But I, I just loved the purity of this character.
Alan [00:08:43] And so that was the ideal.
Pauly [00:08:45] So, yeah, it made me want to read my Bible when I got home. So that was what I did. I started reading my Bible, which is a Jewish person, was just the Old Testament. And I still I started in Genesis and got halfway through Leviticus where when I hit a verse that I had never seen before that said that if a person breaks God’s law, even if he’s not aware at the time that he is breaking God’s law, he is still held accountable for breaking God’s law. And I was terrified because I knew without any rabbi, without any Sunday school teacher, without even my parents or anybody that I knew and trusted telling me. That I was going to hell, I knew that without ever having read this verse in the Bible, that the wages of sin is death, I knew that I was not going to go to heaven and it scared me.
Alan [00:09:51] Now, there’s something else I remember Lynn talking about saying, Paul, if you have if you want to love other people, you need to learn to love yourself.
Pauly [00:10:00] Right. Right. Well, that was when we were traveling that Lynn had said that I needed to love myself because I realized I did not love myself and I just struggled with a lot of self-hatred and then kind of fast forward. And I was living at Woodward.
Alan [00:10:24] And seeing this example from BG’s.
Pauly [00:10:27] And we would of love we would talk about the Bible and talk about God. And there were a lot of world-class gymnasts that came through that camp because they wanted to work out with Ed because he was such a good coach. He had really good equipment and a lot of gymnasts.
Alan [00:10:46] You were in the epicenter of gymnastics coaching.
Pauly [00:10:50] Yes. At that time. And he so guys who had been on his team, formerly on the Penn State team, were coming through and other top gymnasts were coming through Woodward and we would just end up sitting around the kitchen table and talking about all sorts of things.
Alan [00:11:12] So how did BG do in the midst of all these guys who were totally agnostic, atheists and airheads.
Pauly [00:11:18] Well, they were very intellectual. And no matter where a conversation would start, by the end of it, we were talking about Jesus because BG was telling them that Jesus is the answer and she was loving them and they were looking at her like she was nuts and like she had thrown away her brain when she became a Christian, like you, you know, you used to be you used to have a mind. You used to have a brain. You used to be interesting and creative. And now you’re just a Christian. And God is the answer to everything.
Alan [00:11:58] What happened next in terms of your life?
Pauly [00:12:01] Well, I just found that very attractive. And in the meantime, my sister became a freshman at Penn State and she was also at a point in her life where she was wanting a change. She had started doing the drugs and the drinking and the partying a lot earlier in life than I did. And by the time she was a freshman in college, she was ready for a change. She wanted to find some friends that knew how to have fun without having to do drugs.
Alan [00:12:37] Yeah.
Pauly [00:12:37] And so her first day on the campus, she met a guy named Jim McGuire. And Jim had been a hippie drug dealer, kind of a guy and had but he had come from a Christian family and had accepted Christ in his life and had a big turnaround in his life where he was really on fire for the Lord. The day that my sister met him standing in line for cafeteria passes or whatever her or her freshman year, and he started talking to her about Jesus, and so she said to me as I was telling her how miserable and unhappy I was in my life, she said, oh, you need to meet my friend Jim. He loves to talk to people about Jesus. And so I ended up talking with him.
Alan [00:13:40] And what did he tell you?
Pauly [00:13:42] Well, he told me basically that God loved me and had a wonderful plan for my life and that my sin had separated me from God and that and that the wages of sin, as I had said, I knew this, but I didn’t realize that the Bible said the wages of sin is death, but that the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ and that God loved the world so much that he gave his only son that whoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish but have eternal life. And I just said no, no. I just can’t do that. I, I’m Jewish. I’m Jewish. Jesus knows that my mother would kill me. My mother, you know, grew up in Nazi-dominated Austria where the church…
Alan [00:14:39] Did many things in the name of Christ.
Pauly [00:14:41] Did a lot of awful things in the name of Christ. So but what happened was that one night as I was driving back from Ed’s gym in State College, back out to the camp at Woodward, I just started to pray. And as I prayed, I said, God, you know, I’m Jewish. I don’t want to not be Jewish. I don’t want my mother to be upset with me. I don’t want this whole Jewish community that I’ve been a part of my entire life to be upset with me. But mostly it was my mother.
Alan [00:15:20] Mm-hmm. And you didn’t want to disappoint her?
Pauly [00:15:23] I did not. Not yeah. I didn’t want to disappoint her. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want her to reject me. But it just came down to, well, if this is the truth and this is about eternity, and when I get to the end of my life and I’m standing before the throne of God and his judgment of me, and he’s saying to me, what did you do with the Messiah, with my son that I offered to you? I’m not going to be standing there with my mother. It’s just going to be me. And I had to decide between God and Eternity or my mother and I just said, God, you know, I’m Jewish. I don’t want to not be Jewish. But if Jesus is really the Messiah and this is really what you want for me, then I want it to.
Alan [00:16:21] And this is all talking in the car by yourself.
Pauly [00:16:24] All talking in the car by myself at nine-thirty at night on a two-lane highway. All of a sudden it grew very, very quiet and very, very peaceful. And all of this noise and confusion and awful angry accusations in my head grew quiet. And my first thought was. This must be peace of mind.
Alan [00:16:59] You hadn’t felt that in a long time?
Pauly [00:17:00] It was a long time ago, right, and not for as long as I could remember for I mean, for as long as I could remember, I had noise inside my head.
Alan [00:17:11] So what was the first thing that happened when you got to Woodward?
Pauly [00:17:14] Well, I got back to Woodward and I told BG they had accepted Jesus. Oh, she was so excited. We were dancing around the kitchen. And then Ed came in and said, oh, no, now I have two of you. But, yeah, it was really wonderful. The best decision I ever made in my life.
Alan [00:17:38] So, what kind of changes took place?
Pauly [00:17:39] Well, the very first thing that happened was I didn’t want to smoke cigarettes anymore. And nobody was telling me don’t smoke cigarettes. I had lunch with my sister the next day and we typically finish a meal and she handed me a cigarette and I took one drag on that cigarette and went, well, this is awful. I can’t do this anymore. This is horrible. And I had this realization that my body now belongs to God and I don’t have the right to destroy it. And I said well before that smoking was destructive. But I just thought, yeah, what difference does it make? But now it was like, OK, I can’t do this anymore. Then I went that same day I, I spent some time with my closest friends.
Alan [00:18:38] And they offered you what?
Pauly [00:18:39] And they offered me some marijuana and I just went, man, I don’t need to do that anymore. I don’t want to do that anymore. I am having such a wonderful experience, so much joy, so much peace. What could marijuana do to enhance this? This is the best place I have ever been in my life. And so smoking went, marijuana went, drinking went. Why would I want to drink again? This was the best thing that had ever happened to me.
Alan [00:19:15] What about your language?
Pauly [00:19:16] Yes, my language that was peppered with the F word like I couldn’t say a sentence, a sentence without using these four-letter words for emphasis that was no longer acceptable. And so to me, because I knew that I was speaking out of the same mouth that I used to pray to God, I just couldn’t do that.
Alan [00:19:43] So if we had to wrap it all up because our time is short, what would you say is the most meaningful thing about this change in life? And what would you say to the people, maybe somebody who’s listening, who doesn’t know the Lord?
Pauly [00:19:56] Well, I think that being Jewish was such a gift from God for me because it gave me the understanding of who I was and where I had come from, and who God had created me to be. But I had fallen so far short of that. I was I had just blown it in so many ways. And when Jesus the Messiah, Yeshua Homochitto, for any Jewish people out there who are still tracking with us, when he came into my life, he made me realize that this is what being Jewish is all about.
Alan [00:20:44] Right. And so even if you’re not Jewish, you may be thinking Lord or not, Lord, maybe you’re just asking God, can I have a life like that to see a life change like that? And part of walking your talk is seeing God come into your life and be able to walk out the truth of what he says in his word. And if you want to ask Christ into your life right now, you can just do it by saying, Lord, come into my life, forgive my sins, make me the kind of person you want me to be. And he will come in and we look forward to many more times of talking on the podcast about how to actually walk out this thing called Jesus in our life. We’ll see you next time. This is Alan and Pauly Heller for Walk & Talk.
Pauly [00:21:42] This has been walking our talk with Alan and Pauly Heller, where we put into action those principles, we know from God’s word one step at a time, you can find more help at our website: walkandtalk.org.