This season has had its ups and downs for our team. Personally, I started as a right back on defense, a position I never play. It didn’t take long for my coaches to place me back to the position I have played my whole life — a forward. As a team, we were on a losing streak for a while and it didn’t look like we had a chance to make it to the playoffs, but after a few good wins, we were right back in the running.
Throughout it all, the energy on the team has been really good. No matter what was happening on the field or the scoreboard, we were sticking together and maintaining an optimism that was beyond our ability, and it was contagious. The reason we were able to do this was because some of us on the team chose to lean on the Lord for His strength and joy, not our own. Others, not knowing what was causing their teammates to be so still and calm in the midst of the storm, were joining in.
Not only has my position and my team been through roller coasters this season, my husband was released from his team in the NFL and my baby wasn’t sleeping through the night. Many of my teammates would ask me, “How are you able to keep it together?” My response was always, “I just present it to the Source.” I wait for the time someone will ask, “What is your source?” For now, they at least know I’m not leaning on myself.
I remember when I started my collegiate career at Vanderbilt and went through two very frustrating seasons, with no hopes of a postseason at all — I was mad at the world. And it was all from soccer games! It wasn’t until I transferred to Florida State when I began to realize there was more. For the next three years, though my rookie year in the National Women’s Soccer League, I experienced huge growth in my faith in God. Before, I felt deserving of things, but I was completely wrong. When something didn’t go my way, I couldn’t understand why and would respond in anger. I pointed the finger at everyone else.
The difference-maker for me was reading Scripture for myself. Prior to this, I would attend church on Sunday, if we didn’t have a game. But when I dove into the Word on my own, I began to truly believe what I was reading. Now, I’m daily drawing strength and truth from God’s Word and it’s transforming my life.
But I’m far from perfect. The other day I had a humbling moment when I was subbed into a game that I thought I deserved to start in. I ended up playing really well and after the game, my coaches came up to me and said, “Maybe being mad drives you to be better on the field.”
That comment really upset me. I don’t want anger to be what motivates me to be my best. I need to be consistent to practice what I preach. If I want others to see Christ in me — to know that He is my Source for life — I need to act like it 24/7. I was called out, it was humbling, but I’m glad for those moments that push me to be better and draw closer to God.
I have one teammate who has experienced more ups and downs than I have in her career. She was passed up by many teams, didn’t make a roster until mid-year this season, and has been released multiple times, but at the end of our season, she was starting for our team. Through it all, her approach has been the same. Her attitude and encouragement to her teammates has remained steady. She’s been such a blessing and a great example of steadfastness in Christ.
How does she do it? I know she’s consistently in her Bible, gleaning from her Source. She is truly living for the Lord and it shows.
My aim is to continually be more consistent in my time with the Lord so that my actions respond to show it. I hope to be a light to others in the way my teammate has been to me. But first, I need to cling to the Source.
— Cheyna Matthews, Washington Spirit and Jamaica national team forward
Cheyna Matthews is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Cheyna’s profile on The Increase: https://theincrease.com/author/cheyna-matthews/
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