It doesn’t quite feel like the start of a new season. It’s almost as if it’s the same blip in the last season that hasn’t gone away. We’re moving in the right direction, vaccines are coming out and hopefully by early summer we will have people out and about again, but we’re not there yet. The MLS thrives on live games, crowds and fans. It’s hard to be motivated to play when we play in empty stadiums. Without the fans, a lot of the excitement fades.
I really enjoyed the longer offseason, however. The offseason allows me a chance to work out in ways I can’t during the season. In the midst of competition, we are so busy practicing as a team, with a high level of requirements, that it’s hard to find time to work on supplementing your game with things you personally want to work on. At the end of each season, I try to pinpoint a few things I want to work on for the next year, and then I push myself to the limit to achieve these. This year it was developing quickness and explosiveness. It’s been really fun to engage in weightlifting routines and other workouts to help give me more of an edge in these areas. It makes me all the more excited to start the new season and put these new skills into practice.
Our soccer season generally coincides with the calendar year, so at the end of the year my wife and I always find ourselves sitting down and setting goals — spiritual, career, financial and personal goals — for ourselves for the next year. It gives us a renewed motivation and perspective for the coming year.
I have two spiritual goals set this year which I’m really excited about. I try to set goals that are reasonable and achievable so I don’t give up on day one. I leave room so I can do more later in the year if I want to, so I don’t have to subtract from my first goals. The first goal I set was to read the Bible in a year. I have a chronological Bible that’s split up into daily readings. I carry this Bible around with me wherever I go so I can read it throughout the day. I found that, with three kids under the age of 5, I was struggling to get in the Word more than two or three times a week if I waited until I “had time” during the day to read. I realized that times won’t present themselves to me, I had to create the time. This year, I don’t want to sacrifice this. I want my time with Jesus to happen daily — and to be a priority for me.
So far I’m right on track! As I’ve been reading, I feel the Lord growing my desire to be in the Word. I’ve committed myself to this, and now, instead of waking up and thinking, “I have to read,” I wake up excited to read. It’s more like, “I get to read!”
The second spiritual goal I have set for myself is to be more kind with my words. Having grown up with three brothers, the way we would get each other to change something was to be sarcastic with them or make fun of them, instead of giving them helpful suggestions for change. That habit was carried into my marriage. My first mode of talking when I’m frustrated is to be sarcastic. But I don’t want to do that anymore. There are better, more Christlike ways to approach conversations. I want to lead my wife and myself into holiness. So my wife has graciously agreed to help me recognize the moments that I do this and call me out right then. Now, even only a couple months into it, I am able to recognize my tendency before I react and think about how I should talk to her instead.
I’m already excited to experience God working in and through me as I commit myself to Him in new ways in 2021. The year is still young, and I can’t wait to see how I can grow in sanctification, becoming more like Him as we continue.
— 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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