On the way to the state soccer tournament

My senior year of high school had just begun, and I’d finally earned a starting spot on my school’s soccer team. After a strong performance in the regular season, my team was eager for the state tournament and to make a run for the state championship.

However, I was frustrated and disappointed when my coach started his daughter, a freshman, ahead of me. After four years of diligent work, I felt that my opportunity to be a starting player was being unfairly taken away. To top it off, I sprained my ankle in the last game before the playoffs. It was painful and I walked with a limp.

Having attended a Christian Science Sunday School growing up, I knew I could turn to God with these problems. Sunday School had taught me that God is Life, the source of all good activity, and that God is Love, supporting each of us at every moment. Because of what I’d learned, God felt real and trustworthy to me, so it was natural to pray. And the best thing about turning to God in prayer is that it brings practical solutions—real healing.

I felt that my opportunity to be a starting player was being unfairly taken away. 

When I started praying about my injured ankle, I found this verse in the Bible extremely helpful: “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1). I memorized this verse, and with each step I took, I would shift my thoughts to this idea. Instead of dwelling on pain, I started recognizing the spiritual fact that God is governing every part of me. As His child, I walk with God each moment and reflect His strength and poise. Certainly, walking with a loving God could not be painful. Instead, it was an opportunity to recognize my spiritual perfection, which couldn’t change.

When game day rolled around, I felt honest and comfortable telling my coach that I could play. Even though I was still walking with a slight limp, each time I stepped on the soccer field, I was able to play without pain. I ran freely and kicked the ball with ease. Even as thoughts came to mind that argued my performance should be limited, I diligently affirmed that my right to walk—and run—perfectly came from God, because He made me.

My playing was going pretty well, but I was still frustrated with my coach. And while I’d prayed diligently about my ankle, I can’t say I’d really prayed about the frustration. Finally, on the bus ride to the district finals game, I started praying about that, too. 

Giving gratitude to God has always been one of my favorite ways of praying because it helps me feel so close to God’s goodness. So during the ride, I gave earnest gratitude for everyone involved in the game: our competitors, the referees, and my teammates. I was thankful for the field we were playing on and the beautiful weather that day. Blue skies and crisp fall air were perfect for a soccer game. And I gave genuine gratitude for my coach, who I knew was committed to our team and who I also knew could express fair and honest leadership. By the time we arrived at the field, the frustration was gone. I felt joyful and completely at peace.

I could tell my performance had been buoyed by my spiritual awareness of, and gratitude for, God’s goodness.

The game was a very close match. In the second half, my coach played me, and I played really well and feel I made a strong contribution to our team. In the end, we won the game. As I played, my ankle felt completely functional, and I could tell my performance had been buoyed by my spiritual awareness of, and gratitude for, God’s goodness. 

I was also grateful when, later that evening, my coach called me unexpectedly. He commended my performance and thanked me for my joy, which he felt had uplifted the team. My coach even gave me a starting position for each subsequent game, culminating in the state championship game. And my ankle was painless—completely healed—and remained that way for all of those games.

Although my team lost the state finals, the harmony and healing I discovered during that season left me feeling victorious. This experience taught me about God’s unfailing love and total power over every aspect of our lives. I know now that when we turn to God for help, even in the face of physical pain or challenging relationships, we will find healing and experience God’s blessings.

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