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Last year before the soccer season, my school’s team went to Florida to train for a week during spring break. I was excited to completely invest my time in soccer. A few other girls and I were late to arrive because we had just been in Israel for the first half of our break. I was nervous because we had missed a few practices.
My first practice that night was extremely difficult. As it came to a close, we did sprints, and I began to struggle with jet lag. I tried to think of all the things I could be grateful for; I was surrounded by an inspiring group of girls and in such a beautiful place. I had just arrived from one of the most inspirational places in the world, the land where many biblical stories took place. I was firm that no harm, no aftermath from my travels, or jet lag, could inhibit me from doing good and expressing God. An uplifting sense of love was clear to me when I looked around at my teammates. The hymn “I walk with Love” (Minny M. H. Ayers, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 139) repeated in my head, and I became confident that fatigue could not knock me down. And it didn’t. I finished the practice strong.
My spirits were lifted as I went to practice the next day. I felt confident and spiritually empowered. At practice, a ball was passed to me and when I stretched out my leg to receive it, I felt a sharp, popping pain in my knee and fell to the ground. Then fear flooded into my mind. Scenarios whizzed by: What if I couldn’t practice anymore? Could I even walk? Would I let down my team?
After the initial fear came disappointment. I couldn’t believe it! I felt like a complete victim. Immediately, I called my dad, a Christian Science practitioner. His calm voice comforted me; I knew he was confident of God’s governing laws. My dad knew fully that my desire to selflessly work for my teammates couldn’t be thwarted by error, or the false thought that there was another power besides God, good, at work in my life. I started to realize that overanalyzing the situation by replaying questions and concerns would only make error seem more real and powerful. Talking to my dad helped, and he told me he would pray along with me.
I began to get outside myself; I cared even more about the team, and was hungry to love God more.
As days went by, I admit I tried to use human will to push my way through the injury—which didn’t help. I could walk slightly, but was unable to play soccer or run. My dad continued to give me Christian Science treatment, and we shared ideas, but, in a way, I still just wanted to “force” my knee to be better. For the next month I was on the bench, and I still felt like a victim; I couldn’t run or play soccer and I was completely bummed out. I was focused only on my problems, and concerned that I wouldn’t make any progress that season.
One day at school, while I was watching the team play, I thought back to our time in Florida. I remembered my first practice there, where I’d challenged every mental suggestion—every thought that didn’t line up with the goodness of God—that came at me. That night, I’d really felt I had the God-given strength to overcome anything that was tempting me to give in and give up. My teammates had been so supportive, cheering quotes from the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings at each other as we ran the field. I realized I was still completely supported by those around me, and there didn’t need to be anything weighing me down.
This sparked something in me. All fear of re-injury disappeared. Suddenly, I was more focused on accepting what was true about myself and dedicating myself to prayer. I began to get outside myself; I cared even more about the team, and was hungry to love God more. I took time with the Christian Science Bible Lesson much more seriously, and looked forward to Sunday School and Wednesday night testimony meetings, which inspired me to continue to pray.
When I was reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy one morning, I found this quote: “Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious—as Life eternally is—can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not” (p. 495). Then it hit me: I had been letting both fear and doubt take over my trust in God! For the rest of the day, every time fear came into my head, I kicked it out with the acknowledgment that life is all about God.
I realized how much of a fraud fear is, and how when you give into it, it can seem so powerful. But it really isn’t. When I fully accepted that there was “no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18), my mind-set changed, and there was progress. I realized I grew because I was more concerned with loving others, my teammates, and God, than stressing out about a personal injury.
With this change of thought, my knee felt better and was back to normal. I was on the field again, and I have been playing soccer and expressing God ever since.
Crystal Shepherd is a senior in high school at The Principia.
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