Lean In - Shay Knighten

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” — Proverbs 3:5 

After my freshman year of college at Oklahoma,  I found myself crying out, “Why God? Why me?” We had just had a great season; we won the national championship! But I needed surgery, after which I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t do a lot of things. But one thing I could do was read my Bible, so I dove in. I tried to find every way I could to keep myself from questioning God’s will, while understanding that this was where He wanted me to go. 

As I was reading through the book of Proverbs, verse 3:5 hit me. A couple of days later, I returned to the verse — I had to read it again. Something about it stuck with me. I needed to lean in and learn about how I could grow closer to God. If I could grow personally, I could help my team too. I had to shift my mindset to not be so self-focused, thinking, “I’ll never do this now because I had surgery.” Our team was great! How foolish I was to think that my team had no hope because I wasn’t there. 

God slapped me across the face with this verse, making it clear to me that I had to lean on His purpose and not my own. And it’s been my favorite verse ever since. I tell myself this truth whenever something doesn’t go the way I had hoped or expected it to. I recite this verse, take a step back and remember that I’m not doing this on my own.

God gave me the ability to play softball, and now He’s also given me the ability to coach and impact lives. So why wouldn’t I lean in and learn just what it is He’s trying to teach me? 

During that downtime I had, God also surrounded me with a phenomenal community made up of teammates, coaches, family and friends. My coach and trainer would check in regularly to make sure everything was OK. My teammates kept assuring me that they knew I was trying to get back as soon as I could, while also letting me know they didn’t need me to rush and make things worse. They kept repeating the words, “We got you.” 

That phrase was something that we embodied as a team. We would even say it to our coach during the game. When the girls said it to me after my surgery, I knew they meant it. They’d proven it before. We’d proven it before.

When I was finally able to play again, I had so much fun being back with my team. Throughout my recovery, I could feel that they were invested in me as much as I was invested in them. I couldn’t have gotten through my freshman-year surgery, let alone the one that I would later have during my junior year, without them. 

But first, I had to trust in God’s plan. 

— Shay Knighten, University of San Diego softball coach & USSSA Pride infielder

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