Brace yourselves, I’m jumping straight in.
When I was going through the recruiting process and trying to figure out where I wanted to go to school there were two things I was most concerned about. First, I wanted to be no further than three hours from home so I could get back asap if need be. Second, my first choice had to be right because there was no way was I going to transfer and go through the heartache and frustration of going through the recruiting process twice.
SURPRISE, God had a different plan.
January 2014 I found myself in my dorm room at Mississippi State University 1,000 miles away from the comfort of my Pennsylvania home contemplating my love for volleyball and the possibility of transferring. It took me some time to make the decision that I wanted to transfer. Looking back my thought process was screwed up. I never felt like I was good at making friends and since I was now out of season (volleyball) opportunities continued to present themselves for me to meet new people and also build the current relationships in my life. I wanted to keep drinking and being accepted by others through this front I was putting on… which eventually wasn’t a front but who I really was. My idols were volleyball and acceptance.
I grew up in a Christian home but I had never had a personal relationship with God. My faith was very shallow – I don’t think an ant would have been scared of drowning in it.
When I began to have conversations with my family, past coaches, and mentors about transfering I received a lot of feedback and encouragement to pray about it. I rolled my eyes each time I heard this. How am I supposed to ‘hear God’ or really know if the decision I’m making is right/wrong in His plan for my life? It confused and frustrated me, but I did it anyway. I sent up empty half-hearted prayer after empty half-hearted prayer. All I wanted in life was to enjoy volleyball and get better, so that’s what I prayed for.
Once I decided that transferring was the best thing for me everything started moving pretty quickly and by February 19th I was moved into my new apartment in Ames, Iowa and enrolled in classes at Iowa State University.
After being in Ames for a week or two I decided I should probably look into a Church – strictly off the basis that I called myself a Christian and I was also bored and lonely. Through a teammate I was introduced to Cornerstone Church and started going to The Salt Company. The first night I was there they announced a record attendance of 1,500 students. They played a video testimony that night and the kid shared about how kind, loving, and intentional his friend had been in encouraging him to give the church thing a try. I had always learned that’s how we should live our lives but I had never seen someone take so much action and persistence in encouraging another in their walk with Christ. The night finished off with worshiping to the song “How He Loves Us.”
I was so utterly overwhelmed with God’s love for me right there in that moment. I wept. In that moment He directly taught me what has come to be the two most foundational things about my faith. The first was like an uppercut punch, it was God saying “I heard you. I always hear you.” All those ‘empty’ prayers that I very nonchalantly threw up to God, He heard them. It made me simultaneously happy and sad. I had been running so far in the wrong direction and He just plucked me out of the mess of a life I was living and plopped me down in the middle of His unconditional grace and love. He saved me from myself in such a beautiful way. I did nothing to deserve to be placed in Ames or have the friends and community I get to take part in through my church and ministries at ISU. He honored my heart and the passions He gave me to pursue high level volleyball along with giving me an unbelievable Christian community that I wasn’t even looking for. The second lesson I learned was that it’s okay to pursue the things you love in life. God gave each of us unique qualities, gifts, and abilities to share with the world. They were not given to us just for our own benefit but so we could glorify Him through them and bless those around us.
Pray – no matter how seemingly insignificant or overwhelmingly large the storms are you might be facing God wants to hear from you. We can boldly approach His throne, so do it! Confidently and with a purpose and trust that He has already heard you and he knows your heart.
Be Passionate – Those things that make you jump out of bed in the morning: pursue those things. God has given you dreams, goals, aspirations, passions, because He loves you and wants you to be happy and find joy in those things.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” – Hebrews 4:16