Aubrey Bledsoe is the starting goalkeeper for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit.
Five Increase Questions
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
I try to start my mornings by being in the Word — starting my day with the right mindset. As a professional athlete, your lifestyle can be very selfish. You constantly have to focus on how you can get better, thinking about how you train, what you eat, what you do with your free time, how to recover well, and then getting ready to train again. It’s almost like Groundhog’s Day — doing the same thing over and over every day. The cycle can be selfish and draining. Having a greater purpose is essential for me to live this lifestyle well. I try to always be cheery in the locker room. It can be tough in that environment, where it’s easy for the starters (if we’ve been winning) to be happy but those who are trying to win the coaches’ favor or battling injuries are struggling. I try to encourage others and be a positive, smiling face to all. And I myself aim to have a growth mindset, regardless of what the circumstances are. I’ve tried to have this mindset my entire career, most of which was played as a backup. Now that I’m a starter and things are going much better on the outside, it’s a bit easier to be positive. But I’ve tried to keep the same mentality and humility every year because I believe that’s what makes a great leader. We can only do the best we can, controlling the controllables and letting the rest, rest.
Describe how your Journey with Christ began.
I come from a strong Christian background. My mom and dad were both raised by Christian parents and provided that same experience for me. My family went to church every Sunday; it was a priority for us. But I withdrew from it because it became something that was expected of me. I felt like I needed to be the picture-perfect Christian because that’s what my parents wanted; it was more of an outward appearance than an inward relationship. When I went away to college, I had to figure out what I believed. Though I had all the head knowledge of the Bible and could recite Scripture, I didn’t truly know what it meant to be a disciple of Christ. For a long time, I thought of Christianity as a set of rules and restrictions, with zero fun mixed in. But once I began to understand who God is and His heart for us, by getting to know Him through reading my Bible instead of just hearing what others said about Him, things changed. Gradually, I realized I had missed the whole message of His love for us. I used to think being an incredible soccer player would bring people to accept me and ultimately bring me fulfillment, but once I chased and reached those empty promises, I turned back and realized where true joy could be found — in Christ alone. It took me coming to the end of my rope, realizing I wasn’t God. I eventually learned in my heart who God is and how much He loves me, which transformed my life entirely.
Who have been the mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
At Wake Forest University, there were a few girls who really came alongside me. The first was Kelsey Fenix. As a freshman, Kelsey chased after me, taking me out for coffee or lunch at the cafeteria in order to ask me some deeper questions. I wasn’t used to this; I used to keep things very superficial. I thought I was following Jesus, but soon realized through study of Jesus’ followers in the Bible, I hadn’t been. Kelsey helped me draw closer to Him. Sarah Rumley, the volleyball coach at Wake Forest, also was a great mentor for me. She walked me through Scripture each week as we would get coffee and read books together. Then there was Carla Hardy, a woman I met while I was living in Orlando. The professional athlete life requires you to move to different cities often, where you know nobody but your teammates. It can be really isolating to live in a certain area for 6-7 months at a time, unable to get involved in the community. Carla welcomed me during my time in Orlando and helped me get involved in a church there. She modeled what it looks like to walk the Christian walk. She is the type of person who makes you want to join them — you want what she has.
What does the Increase of Christ mean to you?
Last year, before my first game with the Washington Spirit, one of my friends let me know they were praying the verse John 3:30 over me. When I first heard this, I was a bit fearful. “Does this mean I’m going to play terribly? Will my name be diminished?” But I realized this wasn’t the case. I think it means that in everything you do, you do it not for yourself or to make your name known. The ultimate goal is for Christ to be known — to increase. As Christ-followers, we need to wake up every day and put our selfish agendas to the side. If we are truly living for Christ, we don’t want to get in the way! My prayer is this: “I don’t want to go anywhere without You today, Lord. I want You to be the center of everything.”
What is your life verse and why?
God speaks to me through different verses at different times in my life. Right now, I’ve been meditating on John 10:10, which says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This is something I remind myself daily as I take the field. God didn’t come just so I could trudge through life; we are not meant to live just for tomorrow. Every day He calls us to an abundant life! Sometimes I find myself with the scarcity mindset, thinking I’m not enough or haven’t trained enough. We’re never going to be enough; we will always be flawed. The closer we draw to Christ, the more we realize we’ll never measure up! But we can live in the fullness Christ has called us to when we embrace the life He has for us.