Blend in. That was my goal as I started high school. I didn’t start out the most popular kid, and that didn’t make for an easy high school experience. I turned to softball to make a name for myself. Surely if I became an awesome softball player, my accomplishments would show all those naysayers that I was, indeed, someone special.
By my senior year, my dream was to play college ball. I was doing well, and I was looking to have my best season ever. But on the first day of tryouts, I broke my foot and was on the bench for six weeks. Suddenly, all my dreams were gone.
It was tough. By the time my foot healed, it was too late for me to get back on the field. Someone else had taken my spot, and she was having an incredible season. There was no way the coach was going to bench her.
I found my faith shaken; I didn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Sidelined, I began to reflect inwardly and discovered a spirit of pride lurking in me that I hadn’t even realized existed. God showed me that I had been using softball to impress people and to make me feel good about myself. Softball was my identity.
I had also been using it to elevate myself to a leadership position. I wanted to be the one on the field that everyone was watching and trying to be like. Eventually, I realized that true leadership comes from being willing to encourage others to success, even when your own dreams have gone awry. True leadership develops out of a heart of humility.
From the dugout, I learned how to support my team from behind the scenes. It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t my plan, but it turned out to be the most important lesson of my life. You see, if I had achieved my dream of being a hotshot ballplayer, my life would have ended up differently. It would have been all about me—a journey of self-glorification.
Exodus 20:3 says we are to have no other gods before the one true God. Softball was my god. If I really get down to the truth, I was my own god. I was putting my own needs and my identity as a softball player ahead of my relationship with God.
I am so thankful that my plans changed so I could learn how to rely on God, to glorify Him, and to serve others. It’s a better way, a more fulfilling way. No longer do I find my acceptance or my identity in a sport or from the applause of people. I find it in Christ’s love, and His love never changes.
You, too, may have dreams and plans that have fallen apart. I want to encourage you to put those lost dreams and plans into God’s loving hands. He will redeem them and give you an identity greater than the one you lost. Stop fighting God, and stop despairing over lost dreams. Those dreams may have been the very things keeping you from experiencing God’s better dream. The best dreams are fulfilled in God’s dream for you.
by Deanna Whitehurst
Photo by Tyler Mullins