I grew up in a family where high anxiety was the norm. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now as I think back on some of the conversations I heard when I was younger, I realize that anxiety was part of my upbringing. When I got to college, I finally recognized that this was a problem for me. The best advice I was given at the time was to take time to get away and meditate. Though I wasn’t a Christ-follower at this time, being able to step away from my thoughts really helped.
The main reason I became highly anxious was because all I cared about was football; all I wanted to do was perform at a high level. Everything revolved around football. If I was doing well, I was the guy you wanted to hang out with, but if we had a bad game … man, you didn’t want to come anywhere near me. It really affected my anger.
But when I surrendered my life to Christ during my junior year in college, I finally found freedom from my anxiety. And by refocusing my thoughts and feelings, I was able to reshape my entire football career.
My wife (who at that time was my girlfriend) saw the biggest change in me that year. Today, whenever I have the opportunity to speak to others about my story, I share this transformation that took place in my heart. When anxiety arises within you, there’s often nothing you can do about the situation itself. I can worry about a game all I want but until I play, I can’t do anything to change the outcome. I have to give it all to God. When I don’t, when I let myself become anxious about something, I’m making that into an idol and putting it before God.
When anxiety rears its ugly head, when I hear the voices that tell me, “You’re not good enough, you’re not going to make that catch, he’s faster than you, he’s bigger than you,” this is when I need to voice it outloud and share it with someone who can hold me accountable. I need someone to speak truth into my life — someone like my wife or another Christ-follower.
I also gain a lot of peace and truth from the music I listen to — songs such as “So Will I” by Hillsong or “Every Little Thing” by Hillsong Young and Free. By replacing the fear and lies with truth, the anxiety falls away and peace in God floods in.
Lastly, I need to continually pray about it and remember that God is bigger than anything else. Win, lose or draw, as long as I’m glorifying God, all is well.
Like with many other situations that come about, I often turn to my life verse for the truth that I cling to:
“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” — Jeremiah 29:13
— Trey Burton, Chicago Bears tight end
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.