Eagles Linebacker Brandon Graham has always tried to lead by example both on and off the football field. This season, he has been learning to be more vocal with his faith in Jesus Christ.
“I’ve been living my faith mostly through my actions,” Brandon says, “and I know that’s powerful, but God has been showing me that people really listen, and talking about God’s work in my life can be powerful too.”
Brandon joined the Eagles when he was first drafted into the NFL in 2010. In week 14 of that rookie year, Brandon tore his right ACL in a game against the Dallas Cowboys and was placed on Injured Reserve. It could have been a crushing blow, but one of his teammates challenged him to make the most of the situation.
“Jason Avant was really there for me,” Brandon remembers. “He challenged me to see it as a learning experience instead of something really negative. He and Pastor Ted, our chaplain, really helped me change my perspective and my lifestyle moving forward. I learned to embrace the storm and trust that God has a purpose for every situation.”
Brandon has been very involved in the Eagles’ chapels and team Bible studies since. He and his wife, Carlyne, undertook premarital counseling with Pastor Ted leading up to their wedding in 2014.
“Premarital counseling really helped me grow in my personal faith in God,” he says. “That’s what made me want to seek Him seriously. Before that, I had talked a lot about it but there wasn’t any consistency. For the first time, I learned about how God views marriage and family. That’s when I began to see a lot of stuff in my own life that God was trying to show me. I finally started to listen.”
Now two years into marriage, Brandon and Carlyne have been able to live out their life together to be a witness of God’s purpose and faithfulness.
“Carlyne helps me to be my best, on and off the field,” says Brandon. “She really encourages me to seek God and in doing so, God has shone a light on many areas of my life that I’ve needed to work on. He continues to show me His purpose for my life, and I want to follow that.”
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
Wanting to be a light for others, he saw opportunities both in the locker room and on the field where he could pour into others the way his teammates have challenged and encouraged him. This meant he had to do some things that were initially very uncomfortable.
“At first, when I went to Bible studies,” he recalls, “I didn’t want to talk or ask questions. I was really scared to do so, thinking that I didn’t have all the answers and would sound stupid. But I realized that everyone struggled with the same thing. How can we find out the answers if we don’t ask? When we let our guard down, we get to grow together and let each other speak into our lives.”
During the off-season, Brandon gets involved in his community. He regularly visits elementary and middle schools to spend time with kids and read to them.
“I love kids,” he says. “I just want to share my life with them so that they feel comfortable with me and then maybe the door will open for me to share my faith with them. But I don’t want to push it on them; it’s all in God’s timing. I just want to change someone else’s life the way God changed mine.”
Using the platform that he’s been given, Brandon takes every opportunity to share Christ’s love with others.“I know a lot of people are watching me,” he explains. “I want to use that for His glory. My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 which says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Nobody is going to care for you like God cares for you,” he emphasizes. “No matter what happens, I know God is in my corner.”
Brandon and Carlyne continue to grow in their faith in God and their trust in His plan. They are expecting their first baby girl, Emerson Abigail Graham, on February 25, 2016. Brandon’s excitement to be a father is evident in the decision of giving their daughter the Biblical middle name, Abigail, meaning “father’s joy.”