Facing the Hard Questions - Jaelene Daniels

Being in isolation was both enjoyable and challenging. It gave me a lot of time to press into things I neglected, both career-wise and spiritually. With the offseason being eight months instead of four, the extra time allowed me to rest and recharge without feeling like I had to push myself constantly. I was able to take my time to let my body and mind heal. I also didn’t want to become complacent or lazy. With no clear timeline in view, it was easy to push things off. But when we found out we had a tournament to play with only one month to prepare and one month to compete, we realized we had to start pushing again. 

Eight games in 28 days, how do we prepare for that? We faced the challenge of connecting to new teammates and finding the right team chemistry, as well as getting ourselves into shape for competition. Yes, I came into the season very refreshed, but I still had to stay the course and focus on my game.

With a crazy and unpredictable schedule, I didn’t want to neglect my quiet time with the Lord. As professional soccer players, we are given voices, which is really cool, but the challenge is allowing our Christian voices to also be heard. We, as Christian athletes, have to ask ourselves the question: What does it look like to speak in love and in truth? I don’t think I’ve fully learned this lesson yet, but God is teaching me what the truth is and how to love my neighbor in a Godly, truthful way. 

Within our team, the worldviews are so different. So it’s important for me to not be swayed by emotion. It’s good to feel and carry the burden of those around you, but not to the point of being swayed in your beliefs. One of the questions that came up during this tournament was whether we kneel or stand? The only way for me as a believer to know how to respond during these times is to stay in the Word and try to make decisions based on what the Gospel would compel me to do, instead of listening and responding to all the voices around me in the same way the world would. We’re in the world but not of it, therefore we should respond differently from the world. We are to be a reflection of Christ in every way.

Personally, being in isolation helped me grow on my reliance and trust in God. It’s easy for me to go to someone else for an answer, but while in isolation I couldn’t physically do that, so I had to be more self-aware. There are so many issues we can’t hide from, and we need to quiet our hearts and seek the Lord’s council so we know how to respond.  

I am biracial. My mom is White and my dad is Black. It used to be easy for me to look away from racial tension; I left myself out of the conversation. I’m not white enough to oppress, but I’m not black enough to be oppressed. It was easy to hide. But with everything happening in the U.S. right now, I began to feel lost. So many people are not feeling empowered and I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what the right answer is, or if there even is a right answer. I know this will be a battle until the Lord comes back, but I don’t want to be silent any longer. As someone who sees both sides of the coin, I want to be a bridge. 

— Jaelene Daniels, North Carolina Courage defender

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