During my first few years in college, my life was all about softball. Softball and my boyfriend.
Growing up, my dad always told me that my goal was to be an All-American. During my sophomore year — my breakout year— I reached that goal, as well as all the others I had set for myself. When I received the news, alone in my apartment room, I couldn’t have felt more empty inside. I had expected this moment to be so spectacular, but instead I was asking myself, “Is this all there is?”
That summer, I had to have shoulder surgery, and at the same time, my boyfriend and I broke up. Both of the things in which I had found my security and identity were gone. Little did I know that God was clearing everything out of the way to ask me, “Who are you when you don’t have these things to give you value?” Though I had grown up going to church on Saturday nights, I hadn’t placed my identity in Christ — not yet. But the truths I had learned remained with me.
A few days after receiving the news that I was named an All-American, I took up my Bible and opened it. The pages fell to 1 Peter and I started reading. When my eyes landed on 1 Peter 2:9, I instantly started weeping.
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light.”
God chose me. I am His simply because He chose me! He’s called us out of darkness and into His glorious light, not because of anything we’ve done. Up to that point I had spent my whole life trying to earn things, meet people’s expectations, and be who everyone wanted me to be. It was so freeing to know that God doesn’t ask me to be anything but His.
I always struggled with my temper in the game. But once I gave my life to Christ, He began to change me. At first I asked myself the question, “Why am I playing softball when I could be helping people around the world? Why is softball important in the grand scheme of things?” Then I heard God’s response loud and clear: “There are broken people on your team, that’s why I have you here.” I know I’m called to be a light to those around me.
Upon realizing this, my attitude transformed. When I would fail, I could see it as an opportunity to be a light. I knew people were watching me, expecting me to be upset again, but I wanted to show them that my joy is not rooted in the game, but in Christ. From that point on, I started drawing a light bulb on my wrist to remind me that when things don’t go well, it’s not a total loss, but a chance to be a light in the darkness.
— Janie Reed, USA Women’s Softball outfielder
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.