I never thought a Christian could belong in sport. I was so concerned with being accepted through basketball, that I never thought that I would be accepted by God. But through God’s perfect timing, He showed me amazing grace during my senior year of playing college basketball and my life forever changed. Here’s my story:
Growing up I attended church with my family and went to a Christian school. To me, church was always something that was good to be involved in as it seemed like it was the right thing to do, however my affections for Jesus never grew over this time. I looked to other people for my worth. I was consumed by the opinions of others… so I devoted all of my time and energy to prove to everyone around me that I had everything together as this “great basketball player” who had been given all these amazing opportunities from what I had accomplished.
I was looking to be accepted by the world through my performance on the basketball court. Ultimately, I was trying to find my identity by what others thought of my basketball abilities.
As time went by, I started to feel the shame of my actions. I started to feel the weight of my sin that (I thought) could never be forgiven. I had heard from a young age that Jesus died for me, I understood from a far the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus yet I still I could not fathom nor comprehend… how could it be - He died just for me?
"The answer I kept telling myself was always the same: I am not worth dying for so He couldn’t have died for me."
I couldn’t grasp the concept of God completely and fully loving me whilst knowing all of my sins. Especially the ones where I had knowingly turned away from Him time and time again, choosing basketball over Him - I couldn’t accept or ultimately believe that Jesus died for me.
When I moved out of my home in Australia to live in America for a college basketball scholarship at the University of Arkansas, I wanted to make my spiritual journey my own. I was attending church by myself for four years in between my basketball and school schedule whilst still unsure about where I stood with God. But I truly wanted to know him - so I kept attending church.
Towards the end of my senior year, God revealed Himself to me in the most tangible and heart felt way. My eyes had finally been opened to the beauty of Grace and Mercy towards me and all of my sin.
I still remember the vivid moment of meeting Jesus at the foot of the cross - surrendering. Falling on my knees, crying out all of my transgressions. It happened at the Christ centered family home I was living with during my senior year of college. During this time my heart softened for Jesus. I needed to break through all those doubts and insecurities I was carrying towards my heart for competition and also my heart for peace.
Without basketball, I would have never met the family that so graciously took me in. This family showed me a glimpse of God’s sacrificial character through their everyday interactions. This family home is where my encounter with Him became so clear. What I had been searching for... for so long, I had finally received.
I was shown His beautiful, undeserving kindness and forgiveness. I love this verse in Matthew:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”. Matthew 7:7-8
I truly believe that if we play our part by continually showing up to meet Him, then He does the rest. He finds us and meets us half way. All we have to do is keep showing up.
It is my prayer that you find peace in knowing that you too are fully seen, fearlessly loved and pursued by the King of Kings. I want to encourage you to be bold and unashamed of Jesus in whichever sport you play as your heart for Jesus and sport do belong together. Please believe that you are the daughter of the Most High and He has a love that can satisfy you until the end of days - more than any opinion or achievement ever could.
I am a college graduate from University of Arkansas and a retired Professional Basketball player. I am now currently impacting the younger generation in light of sharing the good news of Grace through my Physical Education teaching career. I am from Melbourne, Australia but tend not to stay in one place for long. It sometimes seems that as much as God is on the move, as am I. Through my constant travels and need to quickly adapt to change, there is one thing that has never changed and remained ever true - that He is always with me. The little time I do get to spend at home, I enjoy using it wisely by spending quality time with each of my family members and connecting with many of my childhood friends. I pray my story is a guiding light for you to know that Jesus and Sport do belong.