Winning gold at this year’s Pan Am Games was the ultimate highlight of my time in Peru. But there were other aspects of my experience there that really stood out to me.
I remember during our last practice before the competitions were to begin, I was standing on the field with one of my teammates and I looked around me. They had built the field just for the Pan Am Games. Right in the middle of a poverty-stricken village, the field was encircled by dirt hills and rundown shacks of various colors. It brought me back to something that has been stirring in my heart since the beginning of the summer, and that is the question, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”
This question has been a constant challenge for me, causing me to continually do a perspective-check for my life and career.
Earlier this summer our team was in Japan for the Japan All-Star Series. I’m always very even-keeled at the start, but as soon as I either do well or do poorly, I immediately set an expectation for myself. I had done really well in our first event, so naturally, I had set a high expectation for myself heading into the second event. This event was in a dome, where the lighting was weird and the umps were not great. I found myself letting all the outside circumstances that surrounded me steal my joy.
Later that evening as I was having my quiet time with the Lord in my hotel room, I was reading through Philippians 3, where Paul says, “I count everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” As I read this, I realized, “I’m not here to win gold medals. It’s not all about softball, it’s about being a light to others and showing Christ through the way I play.”My husband, Jake, a professional baseball player, recently said, “Whenever our careers become about softball or baseball, we have the worst jobs.” It’s true! This career is so up and down, and we’re constantly facing failure. But this is a tactic the enemy uses to steal our joy — one bad game and you’re down in the dumps again.
The game cannot determine my joy. There’s an internal stewardship we are responsible for as we handle what’s going on around us. This summer, Jake and I have both had a lot of low moments. Jake’s pitching game has been very up and down. Just when he gets the feeling like he’s close, something happens. It’s as if he’s swinging at a piñata and God pulls it up really quickly — a swing and a miss. Meanwhile, I’ve had a few situations where it’s a tie game and I strike out. After these moments, we’re tempted to believe the lies that we’re not good in the big moments.
Being a professional softball player and being married to a professional baseball player isn’t always the easiest, but we make time to learn from each other and sharpen each other, not just in our game, but also in our faith. As we experience the ups and downs of our careers, we are discovering how to have the faith to pray for victory while still rejoicing in the midst of the hard times.
— Janie Reed, USA Softball player
Janie Reed is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Janie’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/janie-reed/
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