Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
Dear Kianna, how can I grow closer to Jesus? I feel like I don’t make enough time for Jesus, because I am so focused on other areas in my life. -A Seeker
Dear Seeker, you bring up a very common temptation that many of us face in our daily lives- which is being too busy for Jesus. Often, we become so immersed in our own activities, hobbies, and tasks that we neglect our relationship with God, making time for prayer, and growing closer to Christ. Don’t get too down on yourself because, as I just mentioned, you are not alone in this struggle. However, even in the midst of our busy lives, Christ invites us to stay close to him and be strengthened by his grace so that we may go about our days with his blessing, love, and goodness.
Let me share with you my story. For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in sports and athletics. I have played and competed in almost every sport imaginable, including soccer, basketball, track and field, football, gymnastics, tennis, golf, racquetball, pickleball, volleyball, softball, ping pong, and more. Most of my childhood memories include me playing sports with my brother and all the neighborhood boys on the block. In other words, sports have always been a huge part of my life and consumed a lot of my time and energy.
Beginning in junior high, I started to concentrate more on track and field and wanted to become the best runner I could be. So, I began training rigorously each day and designed my own workout plans. Training five, six, or seven days a week, I was determined to accomplish my athletic goals. All throughout high school and now in college, I continued training with the same work ethic, passion, and drive. In fact, when I began my freshman year at Saint Martin’s as a college athlete, I began pushing my body even harder during workouts and taking my training to a whole new level.
Then, the day came in January 2017. I was doing back squats in the gym during track practice and was told to increase the weight. The bar was already heavy, so I was a little nervous about going up in weight. Determined and stubborn, I added more weight to the bar and pushed through. As I began to squat down, my back collapsed, and I nearly fell over. Thankfully, a few of my teammates were able to lift the bar off my back. It took me over a year to return to running after this injury, although still today, my back continues to bother me. And shortly after this injury, I got a stress fracture in my hip from overtraining… again.
Long story short, after enduring two back-to-back injuries that prevented me from running for quite some time, I had a lot of time to reflect on my life as an athlete. When the doctor first told me that I had to rest and take some time away from sports so my body could heal, I was absolutely devastated. All my life, I had identified myself as an athlete. Therefore, who was I without sports? Who was I when I couldn’t run and compete in track meets? I struggled so much with these questions and trying to figure out my identity while being injured.
Through much prayer and thought, I finally understood with the grace of God, that my identity is in Christ. I am not defined by my athletic ability or the sports I compete in. While being an athlete is important to me, it does not label me as an individual. My true identity is in Christ, as his daughter and humble servant. When I was finally cleared to run again after enduring those two injuries, I promised myself and God that I would never push my body to its breaking point again. The Lord only gave us one beautiful body to protect and honor throughout our lives. While I still train hard at practice, I am now in-tune with my body and rest when I am feeling tired, sore, or weak.
So how does my story involving sports and athletics relate to the question you sent in? Two words: be free. I invite you to examine the areas in your life that you may be placing too much emphasis on or are preventing you from growing in your relationship with Christ. Continue being the best athlete you can be, best musician, best writer, best student, etc., but know that your talents, hobbies, and gifts do not define you as an individual. Jesus Christ gives you your worth and identity. For me, I had to free myself from the restrictive chains of overtraining in athletics. I had to stop pushing my body to the point where it would break down. I had to realize that I am much more than just an athlete, and therefore, I need to take care of my body so I can glorify Christ each day of my life.
Continue to pray, strive for goodness, and trust in our Lord. May God Bless you.