Pushing Against the Cultural Norm - Ryan Hollingshead

I’m usually a planner, but in my profession, and especially now with COVID, I’ve learned to be more adaptable. When we don’t find out what our Monday morning schedule is until 10 p.m. on Sunday evening, you have to be able to adjust quickly. 

This season we’ve been competing in our regional markets to start. Chartering into the city the morning of the game and then chartering back home the night after we compete has been a really great change for me. I love the fact that we get to focus the entire day on the game, without having to sit in a hotel room for the whole day, just waiting for the game to start. While we wait for our new MLS schedule, when we start to compete against the West Coast and East Coast teams, I’ve become accustomed to this new routine.

Learning to adjust quickly is all about the mindset. As we’ve all learned with COVID, every day there’s something new to work with. And today’s news might reveal that things are not as we thought they were. We’re working with the best information we have available, doing the best we can. There’s a lot that goes into organizing 26 teams in regards to safety and travel issues. As athletes, we just want to be playing. We’re just thrilled to be back on the field.

During this pandemic, everyone is making sacrifices. Whether or not you have a job, kids in or out of school, or are facing other unforeseen circumstances, we are all learning to pivot. As professional soccer players, we’re thankful to be back doing what we love. It takes flexibility, but at least the pandemic is not worse and not allowing us to play. It’s not easy, but we’re doing the best we can with what we have. 

So much of the Christian faith is about acting on a calling you think you have from the Lord. You move where you think He’s moving you until you feel that He’s not anymore. As we trust the Holy Spirit and act in accordance with His prompting, there are times when we have to pivot our direction drastically. It’s a mindset of saying, “I’ll walk this way with God until He changes directions, then I’ll change with Him.”

Professional athletes tend to adopt a mindset that thinks the world revolves around them. It’s tempting to think everyone is cheering for me, my schedule should revolve around me, and I should be catered to. But the Christian athlete is called to make disciples just like any other follower of Christ is. We are all called in the same way — to enjoy God, love people and make disciples. These moments are great reminders that we’re not in control, even though we think we want to be.

We are all human and tempted to put ourselves, our schedules and our comfort first, but I aim to fight this mindset. If our goal is to be led by Christ, we will push against what our culture says we are entitled to.

— Ryan Hollingshead, FC Dallas midfielder/defender

Ryan Hollingshead is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Ryan’s Increase profile here

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