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Whose Voice is the Loudest? written by Maggie Cora

Have you ever felt like you are in a game-of-tug of war? Constantly pulling and being pulled. You are given a team to work alongside, however it feels like you are working alone. You may pull one time and you feel as if you have superhuman strength, but then the next pull you don’t even get a budge. The physical game of push and pull happens the whole time while you have another game in your mind where you are worried or anxious that your side will end up losing control. But were you ever fully in control in the first place?

As an athlete you have a lot on your plate that can go unnoticed by the people around you, even yourself. You are constantly being pulled in all directions based on an array of involvements outside of your sport. You have family, friends, school, homework, clubs, the list goes on and on. There are so many things on a daily basis that desire most, if not all, of your attention. So, what happens when we let these things around us have too strong of a pull against us?

As athletes we tend to seek the approval of those around us. We want our coach to think we are worthy players who can do no wrong. What happens when your coach doesn’t agree with your perception of yourself? Or if your mistake while competing makes your coach scream and yell the worst things about you. Now all you hear is that coach’s voice over and over again as you continue to play.

It’s as if their opinion of you matters so much that you end up losing sight of what you thought about yourself.

Approval seeking doesn’t stop here. Instead, it extends to what our peers think of us as well. As athletes we have such a big commitment to our sport that our teammates are often called friends. We focus on cultivating friendships within our team, over friendships outside our sport. We do so due to the shared understanding of the commitment and dedicated effort that our sport demands. It’s natural for athletes to have concerns that our “outside” friends can’t provide the same support that our teammates do. Friends and social time can pull us into them wanting more from us. They may want more time from us, or they may want us to partake in that bad decision. Either way it becomes a game of tug-of-war pulling us into something we know is bad for us.

Furthermore, what if we care too much about what our peers think about us? “Will they talk about my performance at school tomorrow?” What if how they perceive us starts to impact our performance? We can get pulled in by the idea of fame or other people's opinions of us. This can lead us to no longer know who we are, or if we do know, it’s not words that come from us.

What about the pressure of school or clubs?

All that work that goes on outside of your sport (yes, I’m talking about that little bit of free time that you feel like you have). You are pulled by homework and maintaining good enough grades to continue playing your sport. You may be in a club where you are trying to give that little extra that you have to make a difference or add something extra to your resume. There’s so much commitment pulling hard on your rope, and you may even feel like you are beginning to lose grip.

All these things are calling your name, and they pull you closer and closer past the line to the wrong side. If you don’t have a strong enough grip, a sturdy enough stance, or that little bit of drive to hold you down then you might just slip and lose all control. So where does this control come from you might ask?

Well, if we look back on all these things that could be pulling at you, they have one thing in common: they all lead to instability. Relying on stability to hold you up simply won’t do. One thing could give out, making you fall quickly to your knees. We must build ourselves up on a firm foundation where we know who we are. So that even when we feel like our strength runs out, we know we have someone we can rely on for more.

Whose voice needs to be the loudest so we may begin to pull in the right direction?

The Lord's voice needs to be louder than any of the things surrounding you.

He needs to be able to have the strongest pull on you so that you can hear Him when He’s speaking. He needs to be the one opinion that matters most. His voice is what you need to hear when you are filled with lies or when you feel like your sport is becoming your identity. The truth of the Lord needs to be so loud so that when you are fighting the temptations of this world you may pull back harder and walk away victorious. His voice needs to be so loud that you may hear Him in the midst of feeling pressure, feeling overwhelmed, or feeling like you can’t handle it all. His voice needs to be the loudest so that you may be the athlete, even more the person that He has called you to be through your sport. If his pull is the strongest you will be victorious in your battle in more ways than one.

How do I make His voice the loudest?

  1. Fill yourself up with scripture. Start by reading what the Lord says about His children (Psalm 139:14, Psalm 18:32, Isaiah 43:1, Joshua 1:9, Esther 4:14, Isaiah 30:21, John 14:27). Speak these things over yourself so that you may withstand the lies and opinions that people may have about you.

  2. Find out how to glorify Him through your sport and ways that you can bring Him alongside you while competing so that you may always know your purpose no matter what your performance or others may say.

  3. Surrender your burdens and your load to Him and free yourself from the baggage that you are carrying (1 Peter 5:7).

  4. Trust that He can, and He will do a work in you and that He has a plan greater than you could have ever imagined (Jeremiah 29:11). Build a foundation on the Lord so that when the pull of life comes you may pull back stronger and harder because where there’s you, there are two.

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