"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5
I was the soccer girl: indoor shoes to school everyday, daughter of a club coach, niece of a DI player. I knew nothing else nor did I want to be anything else.
In high school, I became the “freshman who made varsity,” a title I wore proudly and felt the need to live up to. If I had a bad game, I was a bad soccer player. If I was a bad soccer player, the one thing I thought I was good at, I had little worth. The fact that my value rested on my performance made it rootless, fluid, and unpredictable.
Going into my freshman year of college, all I was concerned about was how was I going to get playing time? My main focus continued to be developing my identity as a soccer player.
- Soccer was my life.
- Soccer was who I was.
- Soccer was all I thought I was good at.
- Soccer was my identity.
Soccer was my family’s identity, my ticket to an identity in high school, my route to college…I used the sport and my performance to determine who I was….but, I learned something that changed everything during my freshman year of college training camp. The senior captain on my team told me that I wasn’t a soccer player but a daughter of the King who played soccer. She told me that God, who is king of the world, saw me as his daughter whom he loved and valued, regardless of anything I did.
That year, I became a Christian when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and began to step into the person God calls me to be, someone more than an athlete: a Daughter of the King who happened to play soccer.
Once you know that your identity is so much more than the sport you play, it is pivotal, life changing, soul-shaking.
Some of you have may have heard “Your identity is in Christ!” throughout your life. But what does it look like to balance a relationship with Christ and passion for a sport? Can they go together without the athlete role overshadowing the rooted identity in Christ?
I don’t have all the answers to these questions figured out. I am still trying to fully grasp my identity in Christ even now as I transition out of my senior season. But, there are two specific things I have learned about identity in Christ and passion for a sport. I hope these truths will encourage you to explore what it means to have your own identity rooted in Christ, something so much deeper than anything this world has to offer (even soccer).
1. Your performance is not everything.
Coaches will have expectations for you. Your teammates will expect goals, points, digs, etc. out of you every game.
When you fall short, it does not determine your value. What a relief that is! A bad game doesn’t mean you are a bad volleyball player. Never playing a minute all season doesn’t label you as a worthless team member.
God sees you as so much more than an athlete! He has put you in whatever role you have on the team for his purposes, and they are always good. You are free from needing to live up to expectations! But you have to trust in the identity He has given you over the one the world labels you as a ___ player, starter, sub, etc.
One of the best parts? If you lean into this truth, no amount of playing time, poor performances, awards, records, or recognition can break it.
Identity in Christ is always solid, grounded, and unshakeable.
2. You don’t have to choose between relationship with God and passion for a sport.
I have an uncontrollable passion for the game. I have to be losing a limb to willingly come off the field. God gives us passions. God gives us talents. If you are rooted in Christ, you get to use that passion and ability to play for His glory. Lean into that identity as a follower of Christ and indulge in the passion for the sport God has given you. Do it for His glory as it is no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you (Galatians 2:20).
THIS IS WHAT'S TRUE:
- You are more than an athlete.
- You are a daughter of the King.
- Your worth is not determined by playing time.
- Your value is not dependent on performance.
- You have passion and ability for your sport for a reason.
- Glorify God with it.
- Trust that your identity is in Christ,
- And that is more than enough.
I am currently a senior at Point Loma Nazarene University. I am passionate about all things involving kids, soccer, and education! Though I may not know God’s plans for me yet, I am eager to follow where He calls me. In the meantime, you can find me on the field helping coach my dad and uncle’s West Coast Futbol Club teams, in the stands cheering on my sister, Abbi, on Point Loma women’s soccer, or in my backyard playing pick-up games!