I grew up in a village called Pease Pottage with my mum, dad, and brother, and as a family, none of us believed or even thought about a God. I didn’t know anything; I’d never been to church, never held a Bible (let alone read one) and if I’m honest I denied any existence, and it didn’t matter what anyone told me. I stood firm in my belief until about a year ago!
If you were to ask anyone to describe me they would probably say that I am football- (soccer) obsessed. I live it, breathe it, and put my whole life around it. I was part of the English national team and even had the chance to win bronze in the Under 20 World Cup. I’ve had some unbelievable experiences that I am so grateful for, and I know that many would dream to have, but despite this I think I always had this feeling of wanting more—that it wasn’t enough—but I thought that I could fill this with my success in football. I was injured at the U20 World Cup, and then my first game back during my sophomore year at Mizzou, I tore my ACL. Suddenly the one thing that could temporarily fill the void was taken away in a blink of an eye. I was devastated. I think the injury showed me how I was truly feeling. I felt like I lost what made me me. I felt like a disappointment not just to myself but to my coaches. I felt unworthy, and I felt like what made me have a purpose in life was gone.
But then everything changed when I was unexpectedly introduced to Christ. I opened up to Mo (Momola), and she suggested I should speak to Nathan, who is on staff with Athletes in Action. (Momola went with Nate to Jamaica last spring break and felt the Lord calling her to missions as a lifestyle. Since, she has been on fire for the Lord. She exudes joy!) I didn’t have any idea of the work that Athletes in Action at Mizzou did/does. I remember walking in Nathan and Lisa’s home and seeing a Bible on the table and thinking, “Oh, no! What have I gotten myself into? This could be awkward” because I was positive that my mind couldn’t be changed. But after having a long conversation/debate I had this overwhelming feeling of peace. It was weird because nothing in relation to my circumstances had changed.
It was like a light had been shone in the darkness and all I had to do was follow it. I think of it as standing in a pitch black cave and for ages you’ve been searching for a way out and you’ve come close but you’ve never quite made it. Then all of a sudden a glimmer of light catches the corner of your eye, and instinctively you follow it. This is how I would describe me finding Christ. My life was the cave and the light was God—all I had to do was get a glimpse and that was enough to find my way out. I don’t just mean this in the sense of emotionally but in the sense of purpose. The cave was restrictive and I couldn’t see clearly. I only focused on the stuff in the cave (football, sport, successes), but the light led me to the outside with so much room for new things to find.
It’s crazy because I found Christ just over a year ago and sometimes people are like, “What changed in you?” but I honestly didn’t do anything apart from opening my heart to the possibility of there being something greater. After that God did the rest. He’s teaching me to see life through the lens of hope, love, and grace and to let go of the pressures and expectations and to trust His plan even though it may not be to play football. I have this unbelievable feeling of freedom, not just on the pitch but in life, and the best part is that God isn’t going anywhere…ever.