Today I’m going to go beyond my limits.
That was my first thought when our rugby coach announced a scrimmage game at the end of practice.
It turned out that way, but not quite how I expected. I was about to learn a lesson about dissolving the barrier between me and a right sense of life balance. I had a lot on my plate that fall semester, including a demanding academic schedule, multiple extracurricular activities, and a job. I wanted to do my best at everything I had committed to.
Rugby was no exception. Not long into the game, I tackled an opposing player and immediately felt a sharp pain in my collarbone after landing hard. I tried to raise my arm but couldn’t. I was afraid I had seriously injured myself. I tried to fight off the pain and continue playing, but then asked to leave practice.
Being raised with Christian Science, I did what I normally do when I need to address an issue: I prayed. Later that evening, my mom and I discussed ideas, such as a favorite Bible passage I turn to whenever I feel my health and freedom are vulnerable: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalms 37:37).
I knew I could not be cut off from God, my constant source of completeness and health. My desire to play rugby with freedom and dexterity reflected a natural desire to express God as the source of activity and being. I did not have to prove my worth or freedom; I was already made spiritually perfect by God.
Despite my initial prayer, I still felt frustrated and fearful. The pain made mundane daily routines difficult, so I took a day off from school to pray and to get practical care from a Christian Science nurse. She placed a sling on me, and then I found a comfortable place to rest and pray.
In my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that what I experience is an externalization of thought, as explained by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Dear reader, which mind-picture or externalized thought shall be real to you,—the material or the spiritual? Both you cannot have. You are bringing out your own ideal. This ideal is either temporal or eternal. Either Spirit or matter is your model. If you try to have two models, then you practically have none” (p. 360).
Reading this statement helped shed light on the problems I was dealing with. Thought dictates what occurs in the human experience, and my view of myself was influencing how I lived. Was I a struggling athlete slowly recovering from an injury? Was I a student with way too much to do and too little time to accomplish it?
I realized I had been putting too much pressure on myself to perform well, which had caused a great deal of stress and an always-rushed mentality. As I prayed about the collarbone injury, I was forced to think through what should truly motivate my daily activities.
Rather than thinking that doing a lot of things at once was my measure of success, I could instead think about where God most needed me. Through this process of prayer, I realized that my world could begin to slow down. Not having rugby practice gave me more time to get assignments done, do them well, and even get to class on time. Rather than feeling inhibited by my injured collarbone, I found that through my prayers, the situation became a springboard to becoming mentally freer and more open.
Within a few weeks, the pain stopped and the bump on my collarbone disappeared, and I have experienced freedom in all my athletic activities since. I also ended up accomplishing everything expected of me in a more balanced manner, which provided a strong platform for the rest of my college career. Seeing each day as an unfoldment of how to witness more good around me, I was able to balance social life, academics, and extracurricular commitments—and I even got straight A’s that semester.
I now know that no matter the demands, I can always make time for God. I find that through learning to glorify God, Life, in all that I do, I am operating out of joy rather than pressure. I am definitely still learning about balance in my day-to-day life, but I welcome each day’s challenges with the knowledge that God is by my side.
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