When I was asked to do a devotion for 21 days of prayer I will be honest my first response was not an overwhelmingly excited YES! It was more of an “okay ill do one if you really really need it.”. As I write this I am embarrassed at my lack of willingness to share such an amazing story of God’s work being done in my life. So now that I have asked for forgiveness for my lack of obedience here we go. Do you know who you are?
Since I was about 4 years old I always had a natural athletic ability. I was raised by John and Darcy Hoffman so obviously that natural athletic ability was trained up through habits and motivational speeches each morning to always be reaching for its full potential. Whether it was gymnastics, basketball, soccer, volleyball, or even golf, I always excelled. I didn’t have to think about it, I just did it.
When I got a little older around middle school, I realized that this athletic ability could draw attention and made it pretty easy to make friends. If I went to a new school and didn’t know anyone, I would do some gymnastics and flips at recess and within 15 minutes I had made friends and everything was good. I was the new girl that could flip around at recess and then go and play with the older team for basketball and was the leading scorer on the soccer team. And I was perfectly okay with being that girl, people looked up to her.
When I got to high school not much changed, and that’s exactly how I wanted it. I would not have considered myself a cocky or arrogant player or person, but I knew I was good and I liked being counted on by my teammates and known as the most athletic girl by my classmates. I was what I could do on the field or court and that was safe for me because what I could do was win.
Once high school ended and I had a scholarship to play college soccer at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, I was nervous for the first time in my athletic career. I was going to be playing at a whole different level. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I wasn’t a starter? Once I got to Samford those fears were gone and I was playing some of my best soccer. It was our fourth game and I had already tallied a goal and an assist, things could not have been going better. Regulation time came to an end and the game was tied 2-2. My coach looked at me and 4 other freshmen that I had come in with and he started all 5 of us for the overtime. It was one of the best days of my life at that point.
Overtime started and about 2 minutes in I am going for a ball and a girl comes through and takes out my legs and something pops. I will never forget that sound or the feeling that I had when I realized I couldn’t get up. After they took me off the field my trainer did some tests and told me that she thought I tore my ACL. I had never had more than an ankle sprain so hearing this news crushed me. My plans for the perfect season had been stripped from me in a matter of seconds. We quickly got the MRI and it was definitely torn and I needed surgery right away. Once I had surgery I was going to be in a full leg brace for six weeks and then it was going to be another 4-6 months before I would be back to playing. I was terrified. It wasn’t that I was scared of the surgery, or even the recovery, I was scared because I did not know who to be anymore. School had not even started and I had no idea how I was going to make friends if they couldn’t see me play soccer. I didn’t want to be the ACL girl the first day of school. I didn’t want to be the girl that could have been really good but got hurt her freshmen year and just was never the same. These were the thoughts that attacked my mind for the first 3 months and it was the closest to depressed I have been in my life.
I couldn’t understand why this had happened to me. About 3 months after surgery the progress I was supposed to be making was not there. Doctors could not figure out why my knee did not want to bend. They went in and had to put me to sleep again and bend my knee to break up all the scar tissue that had build up so quickly. The doctor said it sounded like gunshots going off in the operating room because the scarring was so thick. After that I thought surely this is going to move quicker. It did not. I was right back to not being able to bend my knee. 2 hours a day of therapy and people pushing on my knee until I cried was doing absolutely nothing.
It was December 3rd and I had gone to a church service with some of my friends and we were in the back of the auditorium up in the seating that required you to go up stairs to get there. At the end of the sermon the pastor was praying and he made a call for people to come forward. This was not a give your life to Jesus alter call, I had done that a long time ago. This alter call was for people that had something they needed to give up to the Lord. As the pastor was praying and calling people forward I so badly was trying to fight it. I was having this inner battle with the Holy Spirit. It would take me forever just to get down the stairs with this stupid knee and then I would have to limp all the way to the front. Also if I went forward my friends might know that I was not doing okay. I kept telling myself ok if the pastor asks one more time then I’ll go. I did this about 3 times before I broke down. I couldn’t stop crying and I made my way out of the aisles, down the stairs, and up to the front.
I couldn’t tell you the words that were prayed over me once I got up there but I gave up control that day and promised myself and the Lord that I would have more faith and trust that God’s hand was on me and that I was going to make a full recovery because that is what God’s word promised. That night I looked up all the scripture on healing and on what God says about who I am in his eyes. I was no longer going to dwell on what was seen (pain and knee issues) but on what was unseen (healing).
- Jeremiah 33:6 “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
- Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
- Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- Psalm 91:13-14 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him, I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.”
- Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
- Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
I was so excited after I felt this change and I was ready to put my faith and trust 100% in Him. The next morning when I walked into the training room with my new positive attitude, my trainer came and said she needed to talk to me about something. She sat me down and said that the doctors thought that we were going to need to do another surgery. It was almost funny to me that the day after I felt stronger than ever the enemy attacked me where I was weakest.
Without freaking out I called my family and we prayed about it and decided that I was going to go home for Christmas break and trust God for healing and progress and then make a decision for surgery when I got back to school. When I went home I was surrounded by prayer and support and was completely trusting in Gods plan. When I returned to school my trainers and doctors were shocked. In the three weeks I was home I had more progress than the last 4 months combined.
After that it was a completely different recovery. I no longer wanted to recover for myself but I was wanting to get better so I could get back to playing a sport I loved and use the gift God had given me.
Through this journey I realized that I thought I knew who I was for a long time but who I thought I was was based on things that are not eternal. When I started looking for who I was in Gods word, I was so much more confident and things like how I performed on the soccer field were so insignificant. My prayer for you is that when you are not sure who you are, you look to what God has to say about you, and that you rest in his word and presence to truly hear what he wants to say because what he says about each of us is so powerful.