We talked with Team USA softball player Janie Reed 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 changed the way I think and the way I view people. In college, I got lost in a group of people who were really judgmental and gossipy. It was easy for me to fall into that. God spoke to me during that time and told me that when I talk badly about others, I’m basically disapproving of them, saying God didn’t do a good enough job with them. With that wake-up call, I never want to do that again. My faith in Christ has completely changed how I see the call God has for us to love Him and love others.
Can you describe how your journey with Christ began?
My parents met at the church I grew up going to. I was then baptized in the eighth grade. At that time, I remember having a real encounter with Jesus. My oldest sister was a small group leader when I told her I wanted to get baptized, and she asked me why. I wanted Jesus to be a part of my life. I then decided I wanted to get baptized on Christmas Eve, because what better day to celebrate being born again than the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth?
As I went to high school and softball picked up for me, I lost my enthusiasm for my faith. I went to church less, and even when I did (in my uniform after games), I was tired and falling asleep in the pews. I didn’t see God as that important in my life; instead, I tried to find meaning and purpose in the worldly things in this life.
In my sophomore year of college, I was reaching one of my all-time goals — becoming an All-American. But when I did, I realized it was a really empty place. “What now?” I thought. I began to understand what it meant to follow Jesus and I decided to do so, fully.
I realize now that the older you get, the more of your life you need to lay down for Jesus. Instead of finding my identity in the things I do or the goals I achieve, I find my identity in Him.
Who have been some mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
My chaplain at Oregon, Tony Overstake, was a great mentor of mine. He and I would meet up for coffee regularly. He was the one who asked me once if I ever thought about getting into ministry. I said no, but had never really thought about it before. Now, I see that God used that to plant a seed in my heart for ministry.
After my senior year, I was praying for a place to combine softball with ministry. Meanwhile, Lorie Coleman, the head coach at Biola, was praying for an outfield coach. When I applied there, she told me there was no better place for me; they care more about ministry than softball on their team. We realized we had been praying for each other and God had brought us together for this purpose. She still is a huge mentor in my life, and one with whom I work closely with in ministry.
God has continually brought really awesome women in my life who pour into me. I value that so much! I encourage everyone to seek this, asking God to bring mentors into their lives.
What does the Increase of Christ mean to you?
Part of being human is thinking about yourself way more than other people, but that’s not Christ’s way. I love how C.S. Lewis puts it. He says that true humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. This is not the fake humility, it’s true self-forgetfulness. You’re so focused on worshipping God and loving others that you forget about yourself. I’m continually thinking about that — how to truly decrease myself. God loves me and everyone else so much that we don’t have to worry about ourselves as much as we do! There are so many people out there who don’t know Him and need to. They need to be loved. Our energy should be motivated by that.
What is your life verse and why?
1 Peter 2:9-10 is my life verse. It says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
I found this verse in a breakdown moment in my life and it totally resonated. I hadn’t been growing in my relationship with God for years at that point, and after reading this verse I understood that I am not a child of God because I reached “All-American.” My reputation had nothing to do with how God loves me. I am welcomed into this holy, righteous priesthood simply because I am a child of God, because I accepted Jesus into my life and believe that He died and rose again. This signifies my identity in Christ alone.
Janie Reed is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Janie’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/janie-reed/
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