Saying Goodbye to the Athlete

I’m still learning to love me for me. For who God made me to be. Not me as an athlete. And it’s hard. Here’s the thing… I walked out of treatment knowing that my identity is in Christ. Treatment helped me get my identity back to where it needed to be… My Creator. The King of kings. So I left treatment thinking this: My identity is in Christ and I can still be an athlete, but the athlete part of me isn’t ME. It’s something I do.

I started running and playing again and it became an idol in my life yet again. My identity slipped back to being who I was as an athlete. I tried so hard to convince myself that I was okay. I tried so hard to convince myself that sports, specifically running, was good for me… that I could run and play and still keep a healthy mindset. I just couldn’t find the balance. My time with the Lord spiraled.

Finally, after lots (LOTS) of prayer, talking things out with my therapist and dietitian, family and friends, I knew what God was calling me to do- walk away… Let that part of me go so that I could dive into my relationship with Him… To be focused on the Lord above all else.

It was heartbreaking. I knew I would finish out my basketball season and love the game for the game, but I had to walk away from running. I loved it. SO much. But I just couldn’t run and keep a healthy relationship with myself (my mind and body) or the Lord.

***It may not be this way for all of you athletes out there! Maybe you have found the balance of having your identity in Christ and still being able to be an athlete! I just couldn’t find that. God was calling me to step away and focus on Him wholeheartedly. Maybe you relate to me but maybe you don’t! Your story is YOUR story!!

So… My basketball season is wrapping up soon… that part of my life will be over. And I won’t be stepping out on the track this season. With this comes a lot of scary questions…

Will I still be an athlete?

Am I still an athlete?

How long after it all ends can I still consider myself an athlete / player?

At what point am I supposed to move on from my sports career?

I’m struggling with these questions. I’m scared of life outside of my sports career. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also so thrilled to see what doors the Lord opens up in this next chapter of my life, and it’s still scary!!

Never forget that your “performance” self (whether that is as an athlete, singer, actor, etc) is not all of you. You have your “authentic” self… the YOU that is so much more than an athlete, etc. This is the self you usually hold closest to home. It’s the true you, yet it’s not as vulnerable as your “performance” self because sometimes it’s easier to be vulnerable from a distance with a version of you that isn’t even really you… it’s just something you do. It’s hard to open up exactly who you are to the world, or even to a small circle of people, because if your “authentic” self is rejected, it hurts much more than a superficial self being rejected. The problem with this is that it’s the furthest thing from sustainable. It’s inevitable that at some point your “performance” self will come to an end because that is NOT WHO YOU ARE… you are so much more.

When we let who we are and what we do become one thing, then losing that thing we do feels like you’re losing yourself along with it. Ouch.

I’m working on separating being an athlete from who I am. It’s hard work. It’s easier to be an athlete at times because it’s not truly who I am. I’m on a stage and I can perform… but off the stage I’m so much more. That’s sometimes hard to believe.

*** “Your purpose was never about playing the sport. It was always about the person who played. And that person is there with or without the sport.” -Victoria Garrick

This quote hits close to home for me. And it’s so true!! Your purpose is far greater than dribbling a ball up a court, running around a track, singing on a stage. Yes, God gave us those gifts to glorify Him, but who you truly are is so much more important… God calls us to use our gifts to spread His Word to the world, but this does not mean your sport is the only gift He is calling you to use… You have far too many attributes of YOU to let the athlete part of you be the only part of you.

My goal for us both is to unapologetically be our “authentic” selves… and to put that self first… to put the work into that self. We are too special to be anything but US!!

Join me in learning to love you for you. You are enough… You are enough without the ball in your hands or the running shoes on your feet. “Your purpose was never about playing the sport. It was always about the person who played. And that person is there with or without the sport.” -Victoria Garrick

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