The whole process of my son, Hudson, being diagnosed with cancer, and the battle and treatments that go with that, have taught us so much.
Back at the beginning of this journey we thought, “Ten weeks of chemotherapy and then we’ll probably go back to having a normal summer.” I was injured that year, so I had time off and I was looking forward to having more time with family. Looking back at the last five years, I am amazed to see how much God has transformed us. One of the major ways was removing idols. Some of these things are good things, but we should not attach ultimate importance to them. God will continue to knock these idols away, and I’m thankful because as a result, what do we get? We get more God — a true picture of what He is. He’s more beautiful than we could have imagined for ourselves.
In November 2019, Hudson had major surgery to remove a significant portion of his kidney, which they suspected was cancerous. To watch your son go through that — the fear and anxiety and the real sadness of how hard that is — is really hard to see. It put me in a real tailspin emotionally. I am not making excuses for my performance that season, but I did realize how dependent I am on emotional stability. It’s taking me a while, but thankfully through prayer, a great wife, a good community and therapy, it’s been good.
Hudson is doing really awesome. We’ve been through it three times where he’s on chemotherapy, then he’s off chemotherapy. Now we’re doing scans and checkups every three months, but we’re really thankful. He’s in kindergarten right now, just doing normal kid stuff, which is a blessing.
For the 2020 season, I decided to take the year off from playing in the NFL. It was reprioritizing what’s most important. Logically, if anyone came up and asked if you would give up your job for the health and safety of your family, I think we all would say “yes.” But there were other factors to consider as well.
The opportunity of playing in the NFL again at the age of 32 isn’t great; I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward. The amount of revenue I lost by not playing for a season was significant. The dependence I felt like my team had on me to protect the quarterback was really weighing on my heart. It was not an easy decision. But if you remove the idols from your heart and break it down to what’s really important, knowing God loves you no matter what decisions you make, that makes it easier.
It was great to be a fan this past year. I was sitting in a comfortable chair criticizing every decision they did or didn’t make, and it wasn’t stressful, no expectations; it was fun. But God designed me in a certain way where I want to be productive and get things done. I enrolled in seminary and have learned so much about the Bible. I’ve had a community with professors and other students that has been great. And I am still working out. I just didn’t feel right abandoning my family this year, so I’m spending good time with them.
I’m in a place now where if I am offered another chance to play football, I’ll probably take it. But I’m thankful for the decision I made last year for my family and community.
— Nate Solder, New York Giants offensive lineman
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