I Know Who I Am Because I Know Whose I am: An Athlete’s Story
BY THE GRACE OF GOD, I AM WHAT I AM. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
For many years, I struggled with self-identity, the uncertainty, coupled with who the world said I was, caused me to make decisions that would echo years later in life.
I was an athlete (my body has since betrayed me), and I was defined by my sport. Those who knew me also defined me by my sport.
It was all I knew.
It was what I did.
It was who I was.
I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to play professionally; however, that was short lived as my body had taken a beating over the years that I had to finally choose between who I thought I was and who I wanted to be. Did I want to be in constant physical pain, spending months rehabilitating from another surgery or did I want to be able to play with my future children? I was forced to choose the latter, and that decision sent me to a very dark, lonely, place. I didn’t know who I was without my sport. I was no longer expected to show up at the gym, the training room or put up numbers on the court, yet every conversation resulted in me being questioned on “why don’t you play anymore?” “What are you gonna do now?” It was as if my life was ending and I had no control over how it ended.
I had made the decision to end my career as an athlete, but I refused to think about what was next; I had no idea. That summer, a friend invited me to go on a basketball missions tour to East Africa. We were going to use our platform (Basketball) to talk about Jesus. The name of Jesus was not foreign to me, but I had become foreign to Him. The experiences that I had during that tour completely shook me and shifted my perspective. I saw the strength of people’s faith in God and how they were completely reliant on Him even in the most difficult of circumstances. They had such peace, and here I was, with no legitimate reason for complaint, saddened that this would be my last hurrah.
Our team’s mantra was “Audience of One” the One being Jesus Christ. We were to play as if he were the only one watching. The glory had to be His and not mine; this was new for me. I became spiritually introspective. I desperately longed for God to search my heart and reveal to me who I was because I had become fearful of a future without basketball. Was I good at anything else? What was I going to do? What would people think? My answer didn’t come right away, but when it did come, it was this verse that encouraged me, 1 Corinthians 15:10; “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.”
I am a child of God, and as His child, my life needed to be a reflection of Him, regardless of what I chose to do. This was/is my identity. Despite not being able to play basketball competitively, I still had purpose!
I’m slowly learning and becoming acquainted with who I am because I know whose I am. Years after my last competition I am still asked: “Hey, are you still a baller?” With much confidence, I now say, “no, I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend but most importantly, I am a child of God.”
The journey has not been easy, but on the days that are overwhelming, exhausting, uncertain or I am confronted with the question of who I am; my identity in Christ gives me peace. He is my only audience.
For those who may be challenged or confronted with the question of who they are. God’s word tells us exactly who you are!
Ray Rose | DPW Guest Writer
Hello Purposeful Woman! My name is Ray. I am a wife and mother to my favorite people. Born and raised in the Caribbean, I call Canada home. God is meticulously working on my stubborn heart and I am thankful for his unrelenting pursuit and abundant grace. I pray you are encouraged by this letter.