Welcome to Guest Post Week!! I've asked six brothers and sisters to guest post, each with unique gifts, strengths and weaknesses. Y'all are gonna be so blessed and encouraged through what they have to say. They've gone through different kinds of trials and hardships and learned from those experiences, and they're here to share that with you! So, to start things off, today we have an amazing and true post from my good friend. I was incredibly blessed through reading this post and I hope and pray that you will, too! And please comment below on what you thought!
Also, I apologize for not getting to those requested posts! I'm gonna try hard to get them out during this week, but forgive me if I don't! I love you all!
Palms sweaty, heart beating. I see the crowd of family and friends through the corner of my eye. I feel my heart beating, my braid starting to sway while I jog to the middle of the court. I look at my opponents and feel the unpredictability, the doubt we both have but are trying to hide. I hear the buzzer go off, ending our warmup time. I smell the court air, wipe my shoes, and the game is on.
Basketball is one of my favorite things in the world. I love the pace of the game, the unpredictability, the aggressiveness. I love what I can do with my speed and agility, how I can apply life lessons to this sport.
I went into this past season playing with basketball as my first priority. It was more important to me than God, my grades, my family, maybe even some friendships. I was putting everything behind this sport. Little did I know, I would pay dearly for it.
I’ve always been in a strong Christian family. My mom is strong-minded in her faith and always encourages me to trust God in what he has in store. I was a Christian but my faith was not very built. Yes, I prayed, yes, I went to church, yes, I tried to be an example of Christ, but I was in fact a very weak believer.
Injuries hit hard during the season. Within a couple weeks, we had concussions, shin splits, and sprained ankles. Two of our best players came to practice in medical boots. I had come with an almost healed hyper-extended thumb, my dominant thumb, and the first day caught a pass the wrong way, jamming it again. I felt dumb and foolish. Catching a pass was the easiest thing, and now I couldn’t shoot, dribble or pass without a searing pain in my carpal tunnel. I became angry at God. Why? Why, God? I continued to play, hoping it would somehow disappear and go away. The tissue around my thumb started to turn blue and felt cold when I touched it. I didn’t think this injury could affect me too much, but it hurt me more than I thought it would, physically and mentally. Instead of letting myself heal, I was pressing my body to work harder and faster until this little problem passed. But after all, it was just a little pain. And yet, I ignored that pain. Because it was more mental than physical. And I’m good at forcing myself to squeeze mental pain until it disappears.
Every day. Every single day. Every single day I would cry out to God. Why me? What have I ever done to deserve this? I hate this. I want this to end. I want to play basketball like a normal person. Hurling accusations at God like I was superior to the whole galaxy. Instead of praying and asking for help, I was blinding myself and believing that if I prayed for myself, for my health, my benefit, I would sometime finally wake up with no flaws. All the time I’d manipulate myself, whispering little demonic things to the part of my heart that sensed something was wrong.
I was nothing without God, but I was choosing to be nothing.
This mental brick made me block out my life aside from the court and focus everything on getting my thumb better so I could play without pain. So that when I was healed I could get back to playing on my spot on the court and get championships, finals, scholarships with basketball. Never, at the time, did it occur to me that maybe this was more than an injury. Maybe this injury was God meaning to distract me from basketball and spot a little more light on healing myself, healing my relationship with Him. But no—basketball was everything to me. This is my life, I’d tell myself every day in the court. This is my passion, and I’m following it. I’m doing what I love. But why, Esther? I ask myself this now. I had forgotten about God, and myself. While I was focusing on healing my physical body, I was tearing my internal flesh apart. I was letting myself forget who I was, who I was playing for.
One week I was feeling dispirited and useless. The three practices we had that week I didn’t put in work in. I was doubting myself and my team’s capabilities and felt like giving up. Instead of giving high-fives and jogging instead of walking, I found myself drifting and zoning out from what was happening on the court. I’d think of all the negative things that ruined my season and make a list of them in my head. With each thing I added, I took away a small part of myself. That week’s game, to me, was the worst of the season. I hadn’t paid attention during the drills we did in practice and failed to meet my coach’s needs. I let my team down and I let myself down. I felt terrible, full of regret and guilt. I felt so broken. So abandoned. So unloved. I turned to God. I pleaded with him to give mercy. I told him I was nada without His grace, His love. I begged and begged, though still, I wasn’t asking Him for help, I was telling Him to help me.
My grades started to drop, just slightly. I slept less, slightly. I was unhappier, but slightly. My attitude started to worsen on the court, slightly, then more. I jammed my thumb twice more that season, permanently ruining my right hand of capabilities I had before. I started to spend less time with people, shutting myself in my room, sleeping. Telling myself I was tired, when in reality I had no idea why I was constantly in my bed. I started to stress over small things, making a big deal out of them. I was heartbroken and bewildered by the time the season came to an end. Why did all these horrible things happen to me and my team this season? Why was it that when I went to play the sport I loved that I started to love it less? Why was it that I stopped feeling? That I stopped loving? It wasn’t until way after the season that I realized why the season had gone the way it did. I had completely confused my passion with my life. Instead of using basketball to shape my life, I was letting it shape me. And that tore me apart. I chose basketball over Christ, the most crucial in my life.
That was how important it was to me. Choosing this sport over the most vital things in my life could have destroyed me. And it did, a little bit. I think sometimes, how something as small as a sport I enjoy playing, can entirely make or break you. I learned my lesson the hard way. To this day I have thumb problems. Writing with my hand for too long makes it sore. Putting my hair in a ponytail can go wildly wrong if I tweak my thumb the slightest off direction. High fives sometimes feel like bullets. It’s harder for me to play basketball, or any sport, pretty much. I’ve learned not over the past couple weeks, or months, but years, that my decisions now are more important than what my decisions later will be. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as a coincidence—everything happens with a cause. I’ve learned to put the most significant things in life as my top priority, but be the judge of what the most significant things in my life are. I am continually reminded by the lesson I’ve learned, and I will never forget it. No, more than that: I will never make that mistake again. Christ is in me, and I am in Christ.
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart;
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"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."