in the life: the hidden Girl in Sports


I knew there was more. I wanted more. More of God. More from myself and my efforts. I wanted to please God and others. I wanted to lead well and be successful. And I wanted to avoid conflict, discouragement, struggle, stress, negativity, etc. All of it made me feel like I was failing or doing something wrong. So, I did avoid it. I apologized to God more times than I can count and remained reliant on things that were going well.

Things were going well. My life was [and is] blessed, and I do not deny that to this day. I grew up in a Christian home where I was given many great opportunities to learn, lead, grow and enjoy life throughout my childhood and teen years.

Sports consumed most of my upbringing, especially in high school. I loved playing sports. They kept me busy and pre-occupied. They kept me focused on goals, getting better, and performance. They gave me determination to practice and play hard. They taught me time management and self-discipline. They gave me attention from my teammates/friends, coaches, friends' parents and my own family, and sometimes even administrators, reporters and other teams. All good things.

As my childhood merged into my middle and high school years, the bottom line became this: I loved the Lord, did well in school, was good at and occupied with sports, and had some great friends.

This made life relatively smooth and easy. It was easy to say things were good and deny the negative things that crept in underneath the surface. It was easy to tell myself things were fine even as here and there that desire for more, the feeling I wasn’t being or doing enough, and the struggle against negative feelings and conflict would pester me. How did I get to that “more”? Who could I talk to that would understand? How do I even put words to what I’m thinking and feeling to let people in?

My busy, good, sports-intensive, seeking to please, “successful” life would keep happening and those questions never got asked or answered. It aided in keeping me from what I wanted and ultimately needed. It kept me from seeing that deep, meaningful relationships are the most important thing to have. It kept me from understanding there is strength and grace in humbly showing weakness and admitting struggle. It kept me from confronting conflict rather than shoving it under the rug like nothing was wrong. It kept me from being honest with myself, which was why it was so hard to be honest with others.

It wasn’t until a lot of those good things I relied on were taken away during college that I slowly started confronting the painful and sinful things I was ashamed and fearful of underneath the surface. It’s been through this process where I have found more truth, more grace and more freedom in Jesus Christ than I ever thought possible.

The point is, we cannot let playing or coaching sports, or whatever it is making our lives busy and “good,” keep us from confronting our struggles and being honest about our deepest weaknesses (pain, fear, sin, etc.). When we miss that, we miss out on the biggest blessings we've been given - strong, true relationships with Christ and the closest people He has placed in our lives, including but not limited to our families. These relationships are where the hurt, pain and sin can be the greatest and hardest to confront but where healing can lead to the greatest freedom and blessing in life possible.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Know I still get stuck sometimes and enter the same "seeking-to-please" and "avoid-pain-at-all-costs" mentality as in high school. That’s the world of sin. I consider this the “thorn in my flesh” that doesn’t quite get taken away to keep me reliant upon God and the Holy Spirit working His strength in and through my weaknesses and limitations, rather than my own.

 

 

 

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