Fun fact about me is that sports have impacted my life ever since I can remember. The competitive drive that comes within all of my family members made me want to be the best at everything I did, which is great, until it started to be the only thing I lived for.
My family grew up in the church, but since I lived for tennis that took away a lot of my time spent getting to know God on a deeper level.
When I turned 7 years old, I was fortunate enough to move my whole life to Bradenton, FL from Chicago, to pursue my dream of becoming a professional tennis player. The amount of time, energy, and money my family spent on this sport put even more pressure on myself to perform well.
Winning was great, but there started to become times that losses hurt so bad that they affected who I saw myself as a person. They started to define me. I was so insecure in who I was outside of tennis that I couldn’t handle being known as a loser.
This is why I started seeking my joy and confidence in relationships, how I dressed, and the people I surrounded myself with. If I wasn’t going to be the best tennis player, maybe I could try and fit in another way.
Up until college these same thought processes would continually go through my mind and consume all of me. I always believed in God, but I didn’t know him personally. He was who I went to when I wanted something. I was pleased with him when life was going how I wanted it to go, and angry with him whenever he threw something that wasn’t in line with my own life plan.
When I started going to Athletes in Action my freshman year of college, I started to know more of who Jesus was, and what he did for me on more of a personal level.
I was tired of putting on a mask and hiding the depression, anxiety, and insecurity that was taking over who God created me to be. I saw the security, joy, and friendships that others had at Athletes in Action and I knew that listening to them telling me that UTC (the ultimate training camp) was one of the top 3 best experiences of their lives wouldn’t hurt me any more than my life circumstances were at the time.
When I went to The Ultimate Training Camp, I was surrounded by some of the most Jesus loving people, who were pouring their hearts into me for a week straight. This camp gave me a glimpse of heaven, while also helping me understand that I was broken and in need of a savior who was waiting for me with open arms.
This camp showed me that nothing in this world will ever satisfy me the way the Lord does.
In Hebrews it says,
“Since the children are people with physical bodies, Jesus himself became like them. He did this so, by dying, he could destroy the one who has the power of death- the devil. And free those who were like slaves all their lives because of their fear of death”
As you can see, my whole life up until this moment at UTC, I was a slave to tennis. I sacrificed hanging out with my friends, going to church, seeing my family, moving across the country all for a sport that was and never will satisfy me the ways that God can. All I needed to do was accept that Jesus died for me and let him into my heart.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says,
“Here I am I stand at the door and knock,
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with him and he with me”
June 6, 2018, I decided I wanted to go all in for God. The UTC interns drew a line in the sand on a Long Beach California summer night and I finally said Jesus I surrender my control to you. I am yours and you are mine. From this day forward everything that I am going to pursue is going to be for you. To give you all the glory and honor that you deserve.
You give me strength when I’m weak and an identity when I’m lost. You love me in the darkness and radiate your light when I can’t see the way.
Life after UTC did not solve all of my problems in life, but it did give me something to keep striving for every day. It made me realize that even though we are faced with constant battles every single day by the ways of this world and especially the culture of our college campus, we should keep our eyes on the only thing that is true and stable, which is Jesus and what he did when he died on the cross for all the times we’ve chosen to disobey him or neglect the fact that all he wants is for us is to know how much he loves us.
Today I can fearlessly say that I live for God, I don’t live for tennis, or anything other than God. I strive to glorify him in all I do and can rely on his strength to help me get through all the hardships in this journey of life.
I live with hope of the future, not fear of death.
“My son, never lose sight of God’s wisdom and knowledge:
make decisions out of true wisdom, guard your good sense,
And they will be life to your soul
and fine jewelry around your neck.
Then each one of your steps will land securely on your life’s journey,
and you will not trip or fall.”
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”