We talked with North Carolina Courage defender Jaelene Daniels about her faith journey, how she’s living in the increase of Christ, and the mentors who have impacted her life. Here’s what she had to say:
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
My faith has a large effect on my lifestyle. It not only dictates the decisions I make in life, but it challenges my motives, it shapes my character, and it makes me see life in a different lens than what the world looks through, because if we’re living a life of faith, it should flow out into everything we do. It’s challenging at times, especially in the world of professional sports, but it’s been really cool to have conversations I’m able to have with my teammates because I choose to do something different than they do. When they ask me why I make the decisions I make, I’m able to express to them that my faith is everything to me and that my relationship with the Lord comes first.
For athletes, we live in a unique atmosphere. It’s easy for us all to find our identity in soccer. We have so many goals, and if we’re not successful it’s easy to feel like we’ve failed. Soccer is a gift from the Lord, but there is so much more to our stories and who we are outside of soccer.
I know each day is a gift from the Lord. So I do my best to press into Scripture and find others to talk to about my faith on a day-to-day basis. When the time comes when I’m no longer playing soccer, I want to be able to look back and know that I gave it my all, and that I lived a life of faith, fully devoted to Christ in all that I did.
Can you describe how your journey with Christ began?
I grew up in a Christian home. We attended church regularly and my mom was very adamant about us having a relationship with the Lord. It was during my junior year of college when I started to personally walk out my faith. I was a people-pleaser and always tried to do the right things, but when I had a few health scares my junior year, I experienced God healing me in a miraculous way. And during that, I had a really cool encounter with the lord. God was so gracious during that time and I really felt in my heart that He was someone I wanted to pursue and give my life to. By pursuing God in an intentional and personal way, my life changed. Ever since then, my faith has been the basis of my life -— the most important thing to me. The Lord continues to be really kind to me and to walk me through a lot of ups and downs.
Who have been some mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
I’ve been able to develop really cool relationships with our two chaplains in North Carolina. They are involved in my life and have been women I can go to regularly. Also, my mom has taught me a lot about the Lord and who He is. Talking to her has really pushed me in my walk; she’s been able to guide and lead me through many ups and downs.
Two years ago I reached out to an older woman at my church from years past because I wanted to be intentional about having older women in my life to give me Godly wisdom. I check in with her every so often; she has more years waking with the Lord than I do so she can give me good advice.
What does the Increase of Christ mean to you?
The first verse in the Beatitudes says “blessed are the poor in spirit because they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:3).
When we realize just how deeply we need the Lord, we can set aside our pride in life. We can begin to be poor in spirit, not because we don’t have anything, but because we realize that everything we need is in Christ. We need to die to ourselves every day and seek God in the little things and the big things. How much time are we spending with Christ instead of on our screens? We have to put ourselves on the back-burner and become the people the Lord has made us to be; we’re never going to be at a place where we don’t need Jesus. The more we remind ourselves of that each day, the more we decrease and push forward the Gospel of Christ.
What is your life verse and why?
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” While playing a sport, you’re always trying to impress a coach or teammate. If you let this mindset rule the day, it will start to spill over into other areas of your life. When I read this verse in college, it immediately stood out to me. I should only be striving to please the One who has given me these gifts. I should be working to win the race for eternity. Whatever we are doing, it’s for the Lord’s glory alone.
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