I believe in wholeheartedly pursuing anything you are passionate about. For me, that has always been relationships and my love for sports. But the key is to pursue them wholeheartedly for the Lord, not for my own benefit. Colossians 3:23 is a verse that has resonated with me in every stage of my life, whether I was playing sports or, now, working in sports. It says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
For so long I pursued worldly things and the affirmation of others with the intention of gaining benefit for myself and, honestly, to feel wholesome. But in my experience, when I follow that path it always leaves me feeling emptier than before.
The truth is, when we put our heart and energy into anything without the Lord, our identity gravitates toward those things. And, our identity should be in Christ.
When I decided not to pursue college athletics during my senior year of high school, I was left feeling like a part of me was missing. I had spent my entire life practicing, training and competing. Yet, it never occurred to me that one day it would all stop. As a member of the track team, I placed my identity in athletics. Yes, I was a Christian, a daughter, sister and friend, but in my eyes, my greatest accomplishment was my athletic career.
My first semester of college was hard for me. It felt like a piece of myself was lost, like nothing could fill the void left by my athletics career. As a result, I decided to pursue a career working in sports since that is where my passion lied. So I began wholeheartedly working toward that goal, and although I worked hard at it, I did not work hard for Him.
Similar to when I ran track, I took defeats personally. I took pride in my accomplishments, and my attitude was centered around how well I was performing or what I could do to move forward. I was still going to church and growing my relationship with the Lord, but that was separate from everything else, including my career.
I still remember the day I sat in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and the speaker preached about identity. He spoke about his professional career and the many accolades he collected over the years, but the awards and accomplishments were not what stuck out to me. After he reached the top, exactly where he dreamed of going, he was left unsatisfied and wanting more.
All our life we are taught to aim high and be the best, but apart from Christ, those goals are not sustainable. Happiness is not sustainable. We are not meant to walk through this life alone, or with the idea that our future is dependent on what we can do for ourselves. Leaving the room that night, I decided to look at every aspect of my life and evaluate where Christ was missing and where I placed my identity. It wasn’t that I wanted to change my career or passions, but that I was going to pursue them for Christ, not for my own desires.
I no longer spent every moment worrying about the future and how I could reach the next step. Instead, I began treating each opportunity and moment as a blessing, giving glory to God every step of the way.
When I handed Him everything I held so close, it changed my perspective on success and how to handle disappointment. Now, my whole attitude and demeanor have changed. I wake up every day with the mindset of honoring the Lord in everything I do, and it’s indescribable.
It’s not to say you won’t have days where you fall off, mess up, or become wrapped up in your worldly identity, but it holds us accountable to get back on our feet and be better than we were yesterday.
Before every FCA meeting, they say, “No perfect people allowed.” I love that statement because it proves that when our identity is in Christ, we are not perfect but instead, we are loved in the midst of our imperfections. No longer was my identity in what I did or the perceptions of others, but in God and His perfect plan for me.
Today, I am working in community relations for the Dallas Cowboys. If you would have told me four years ago that this is where I would be, I would have been in disbelief. Not only does this job give me the opportunity to do what I love each and every day, but it gives me a platform to reach others.
If there is one thing that sports have taught me over the years, it is that they have the opportunity to inspire, encourage and impact people on every end of the spectrum. I believe God will open doors that no man can open, you just have to trust that what He has planned for you is greater than anything you can plan yourself.