“It’s my way or the highway” – How many of us have heard this phrase and thought the person saying it was a bit narrow minded? I know I have. But in reality, how many times have I indirectly said that to God about the plans that I have made for my life? College is a prime example; heading into college as a division one volleyball player, my plan consisted of getting in and out in four years with one degree, hopefully bringing home a championship ring, and who knew, maybe even scoring a boyfriend if I got lucky.
Wow, am I so glad that God is always in control and I’m not because he completely busted my plan at the seams with a path greater than I could have thought up on my own (Eph. 3:20). Instead, I came out of college with two bachelor’s degrees in five years, more satisfaction than a championship ring could ever bring me, and experience in the beauty of contentment in singleness. My “master plan” had me on the four-year college track, but God’s playbook had me in college for five years the whole time.
A Change in Plans: My Redshirt Story
It’s not uncommon at all for collegiate athletes to take a redshirt year at some point during their career, whether medical or as agreed upon before committing to the university. I never had any plans or intentions of redshirting, nope, no thank you. However, that quickly changed during my sophomore volleyball season. During our first home game of preseason, I tore my second ACL. I had previously torn my first ACL on my high school senior night which lead me into a season of surrendering my sport to the Lord after coming to the realization that I had made volleyball my god. Very shortly after tearing my second ACL, there was already talk of me staying for a fifth year, and it wasn’t even really presented to me as an option.
Taking an extra year was NOT in my plan and neither was incurring a season ending injury. Little did I know that major injuries would be a staple in my story and in my college volleyball career. I ended up having back surgery during my junior season and chronically dealt with severe shin splints during my (“first”) senior season. Yeah, this really wasn’t going as I had planned.
There were times that I wondered “why” this all was happening, but throughout the windy new path that I was beginning to call mine, God used my injuries and my fifth year to witness to the people around me more than I could have ever imagined (Eph. 3:20).
I would have never thought it during my sophomore year, but my redshirt senior year turned out to be the biggest blessing in my life to date. For starters, my second senior year was the only year of my whole college career that I made it through an entire season without a major injury. In addition, our team was also very successful, which was an added bonus. The fruit that God so graciously revealed to me that year was far greater than being healthy and winning volleyball games. A season that I was dreading quickly became one of my favorite seasons of life thus far. Overall, just seeing the change of culture on my team in tangible ways was incredible and was truly the best kind of “win” I had ever gotten to be a part of.
During my final year of college volleyball, I wanted to leave a legacy of Jesus and not of Jessie. Staying an extra year gave me a broader perspective and I found so much purpose in being there. I was amazed to see all the different ways God had used me during my college volleyball career - some of which I was not aware of until this final year. God has allowed me to have spiritual conversations with athletes and coaches, help expand the student athlete ministry on my campus, witness past and present teammates express their nearness to God, make prayer a pre-game meal staple, and much more.
Overall, God has proven Himself faithful to me over and over again, especially through taking my redshirt year. He is the Jehovah Jirah (God will provide), and He will always out do our seemingly “perfect” plans. Paul writes confidently in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—”. What a promise we have in that truth; that God chooses to work His great and mighty power within us to exceed our own expectations and our own plans.
My prayer for you is that as you navigate this vapor of a life on earth, that we would surrender our hearts, plans, and expectations wholly to the Lord.
Hey everyone, I’m Jessie! I played indoor and beach volleyball at Morehead State University from 2014-2019. I graduated from Morehead State with two degrees, one in Strategic Communication and another in Social Work. My hope is to use the gift God has given me to love people fully and deeply in whatever I pursue. Aside from sports, there are a couple things that I love: bubble tea, Justin Timberlake, and anything burnt orange. I’m a 2 with a 3 wing on the Enneagram – big self-awareness girl. If I were stranded somewhere, I would hope it would be a beach or in a mall. Catch me in Columbus, Ohio (go bucks!) or on Instagram @_yessiejessie!