This past Wednesday night was the playoffs for intramural women’s soccer. IM soccer has been one of the best pieces of my four years of college. Getting to play a game I enjoy with friends that I love is such a joy. This particular night of games will likely forever be the most intense athletic situation I’ve personally been involved in. That’s a lot considering I’ve played a sport for at least one season a year since I was six. Game one started out good. At one point we were winning, but then the other team came back and tied it up leading us into a five minute sudden death overtime followed by a shootout.
People always said when they get nervous they feel like they have cotton balls in their mouth. I never actually knew what that felt like until that night. We ended up winning that game which was followed by the semifinal. Similar situation, ended up going into a shootout, but we lost this time. I say all this not because I think you actually care about Grove City College’s IM Women’s Soccer league standings, but because of the valuable lesson I learned through it.
One might think that something as trivial as an intramural sport cannot be a time for God to teach us a lesson, but this semester’s season for me is proof that this is false. God can use any situation to bring us closer to Him. In the beginning of this season, I really struggled with losing. I always felt like everyone was mad at me for the goals I let go by. I knew I was placing my identity too much in others approval, something I continually struggle with and need to bring before God, and that I was over-analyzing everything to the extreme.
One day I just decided to ask one of my teammates what her thoughts on this were. We’ve been playing together since freshman year, and she was one of the firsts to notice how stressed this was making me. I asked her if she ever got mad or thought that anyone else blamed me for our losses. She was quick to debunk these thoughts I had and encourage me to stop putting so much pressure on myself.
After that things went well. I began to enjoy it more. We did well in most of our games after that which also helped, but then we came to playoffs. Beginning-of-the-semester Alycia would have literally cried at the thought of a shootout, but last week was different. As I stood on the goal line with a quick beating heart and mouth as dry as an Arizona desert in the summer, I looked down at my sneakers and simply prayed, “God, take away any pride that will come if I get this, and give me courage if I don’t.” I repeated this to myself for the following four shots and the duration of the next game, and it was so cool to see the impact it made on how I dealt with and responded to all of it.
Reflecting on this later that night, I realized that this is a prayer that can apply past a soccer game. It’s one that I hope can be a quick sentence you lift up to God during a hard/stressful situation. When things go good, pray that it will not end in pride making us think it was our own doing and not God’s. When things go bad, pray for the courage to move forward and not place our identity in anything else other than Christ.