Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Today, I get to play soccer.
For the first time since last March, right before Covid hit, my soccer team at LuHi is having a practice again, and I am thrilled. I’ve been looking forward this for months now, and all week I’ve been training, getting ready for today. I can’t wait to try out for varsity this year.
And being so excited about soccer got me thinking. I think I’ve been hesitant to hope for anything this year just because I was so heartbroken last year with cancellations. These last few months, I’ve had this weary hope, this hope that almost braces for disaster at any given moment. But for the first time in months, nearly a year, I’m beginning to feel that hope regrowing and coming back after a long, cold winter.
I’m genuinely excited about soccer. I’m actually excited about the musical this year, and getting to act on stage for the first time. I’m pumped for my pub month coming up in April, and I’m stoked for graduation and prom and all the incredible things to come.
And now that this hope is coming back, this excitement, I’ve been thinking about where my heart is in all of this. Before, I had doubts as to whether any of it would even happen. I didn’t have time to think about my heart posture in the middle of it. But now, now that I’m letting myself get just a little excited, I know I need to figure out where my motivations lie before I dive in.
I’ve been thinking: how do I want people to remember me when I graduate?
I’ve been thinking about my class, the class of 2021 recently, and how each of us will be remembered after we graduate Lutheran. Some will be remembered for their athleticism, their smiles, their hugs. Some will be remembered by their work ethic, their reputation for partying or sleeping around, their wisdom, their brain. Some will be remembered for their beauty, their talent, their voice, their style.
But what do I want to be remembered by?
I think back to all the seniors before me who impacted my life significantly. One girl, a senior when I was a freshman, simply made me feel seen on the soccer field. She helped my positioning on the field, gave me tips on how to be a good defender. She didn’t act like a high and mighty senior. She acknowledged me.
And another player, a senior last year, encouraged me almost daily. I remember seeing her train after practice, staying late and practicing relentlessly. I remember her teaching me selflessness and work ethic through her own actions. She made me feel loved.
And I realized: neither of these girls were remembered for how good they were at soccer. Both of them were on varsity, and both of them were incredible with a soccer ball. But when I think of them, I don’t think of soccer right away. I think of someone, broken and needing grace, kneeling before the cross, letting Jesus love people through them.
That’s how I want to be remembered.
Yes, I’m a soccer player. Yes, I’m an author. Yes, I’m an artist and an actor and a singer and a student and a sister and a daughter and a friend.
But I am a child of God first.
Let me share a story with you:
I’ve wanted to get on varsity soccer since I was a freshman. Every single year, without fail, I’ve gone to nearly every optional conditioning practice. I’ve gone to Saturday practices, and trained with my coach one-on-one. I’ve worked out at home and prayed relentlessly about getting on varsity. But every single year, without fail, I’ve been placed back on JV.
And this was frustrating to me. I didn’t play soccer until 8th grade, so I had to catch up with a lot of the girls on the team. And as soon as I felt like I had reached their level, they would raise the bar time and time again. It always felt out of reach.
I made getting on varsity my goal. I didn’t even stop to ask God what he might be doing with my athletic life before I dove in. I just plowed ahead.
But now, as a senior contemplating how I want people to remember me, I realize getting on varsity is not the greatest thing I could do. It shouldn’t be my singular motivation. It shouldn’t drive my every decision on the field. Of course, it’s an accomplishment I admire in others. But I have to ask myself: do I want to be remembered as a good soccer player? Or do I want to be remembered for walking with Jesus, for playing on the field with Jesus, for showing Jesus to others on the pitch, for lifting others up and reminding them of their worth?
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This was my verse of the day, and I think it’s incredible. I wish I could tell my past self, “Grow where you’re planted! God put you on JV to love on the girls there, to humble yourself, to be a light to those around you. Be thankful for that! Praise God! Do it for him, not yourself!”
This year, I don’t want getting on varsity to be my driving motivation. Yes, it would be humbling and refreshing and awesome. But not as awesome as letting Jesus love people through me.
I want people—my teachers, my coaches, my teammates and classmates, my friends and little siblings at LuHi this year—to remember me for being close to Jesus. Not for being a good writer, a good athlete or a good artist or whatever.
When they think of me, I want them to think of Jesus. That is my greatest goal.
Here’s a song that’s gotten me through quarantine and all the hills and valleys the last two years have held for us all. I hope your weekend is awesome, and Jesus loves you! Thanks for reading!