“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” — 1 Timothy 4:8
I’ve always been my toughest critic. Even when I’m doing well I know I have many areas of growth to tap into. I know I can do better. I’m not here for my own glory. I want to do my absolute best so all honor and glory goes to God — the only One who deserves every bit of it.
This has been a great year for me personally. I’ve had a high production of tackles, sacks and coverage plays, but there are still many plays I could have made but didn’t. My aim to is be a more efficient player so that I don’t make any negative plays and instead complete some big plays that can help carry my team to victory. I always strive to put my team in a better position to win.
I’m excited about how my play level has been; I’m thankful that I’ve been able to have a good season so far. But there are still times when I’m disappointed with results of my own play or those of my team. It’s important to understand your emotions and allow yourself to fully process them, while still keeping a bigger eternal perspective. Yes, I don’t feel great when I don’t do well, and though I know one game isn’t the end all be all, I still feel upset at times. In the spiritual realm it may matter little, but in the physical realm, I still have emotions that surface in response to results. I think it’s important to give respect to those feelings so that you can acknowledge when something goes differently than you had hoped. Then you can evaluate ways to prevent losses in the future and continue to get better. I view each season as a marathon — even when it hurts and things aren’t turning out the way I hope, I need to push forward to continue to get better.
Being in Cleveland prepared me to handle defeat. That year was instrumental in helping me find out where my joy really comes from and learn how to lean into that. This year I recognize that some younger players on my team may have never experienced defeat before, so when those times come, I try to help them keep a healthy perspective about it. I try to show and explain to them that life is about more than football. One game isn’t going to ruin everything. Though we lost a game, that’s all we lost — a game. We didn’t lose a friend or family member; there are bigger things in the world that are going on. When adversity strikes it’s all about how you respond to it. You can do so in self-pity, or you can find out what you did wrong and approach it with the right attitude needed in order to turn things around.
I often have conversations in the locker room with teammates of mine who want to know why I’m so positive all the time. They’ve said when they see me it looks like I’m floating; they notice a light in me that’s not my own — one that comes from the Spirit of God inside of me. One day one of my teammates came up to me and noticed that I was having a hard day; he said I looked a little down and, unused to seeing that, he knew something must be wrong. That was an opportunity for me to share a different viewpoint. Yes, I’m human. I have feelings and emotions like everyone else. There are things in life that are hard to deal with; things at home, in the locker room or elsewhere will disappoint. But by living an authentic and honest life, I can show others that though hard times will come, my joy and peace comes from the Lord. My identity and confidence in Christ is what lasts. Placing my joy in the Lord alone allows the light to stay on.
— Demario Davis is a New York Jets linebacker. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.