God Loves You, Anyway


Shortstop Kayla Gray shares how she learned that when you know Jesus, you realize that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, that He loves you anyway and your identity doesn’t change.

God made a complete 180 of my life. In high school, I was sinful toward the church, judging from the outside in. I didn’t like how the Christians I knew treated people. In my senior year, I met Christians who were real with me and admitted that they needed Christ because they fell short. That next summer, I began asking a lot of questions about Christianity and God.

In a college genetics and evolution class, the professor was atheist but believed you could operate under different beliefs. He put them all on the board, but I didn’t know what label I would put on myself. I read the book “The Case for Faith,” which led to more questions about who Christ was. It was baffling to see what God did to show us how much He loves us. I started asking questions about who God would be to me.

On Nov. 21, 2008, I accepted Christ as my Savior, then later I committed my life to Christ on my birthday. As a new believer, I wasn’t sure what my identity would be or what my life would look like with Christ in it. At that point, my sport and Jesus were two different things.

Shortly after this, I tore my ACL during the fifth game of my freshman year. I struggled a lot with that first injury and had no idea that an injury could be glorifying to God. I started going to AIA my sophomore year, and God began speaking to me in many different ways. I never realized how I was worshipping my sport until I attended the Ultimate Training Camp after my junior year, just after I had my second ACL tear. I started to see the overlap, that sport and faith were not two different things.

I heard that I could glorify God on the field, which was revolutionary for me. I liked the idea that I could bring His presence with me onto the field and, if I succeeded, He would get the glory. But that’s where it stopped; I didn’t know what to do when I failed. There was a tug of war in my heart, and I was still kind of worshiping the sport. My wins and losses were dictating my walk with God and how I felt. The second time at UTC – after my third, career-ending injury – drove that home for me; Christ died for us because we fail, and that’s what makes sports a way to glorify Him, because He is so perfect. When you know who Christ is and what He did for you, you realize it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, that He loves you anyway and your identity doesn’t change.

One of my favorite verses has been Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” That’s really helped me in the transitions between losing softball each time to injury. That reminds me not to seek sports or a degree or a job but the kingdom of God first and the rest will come. That reminds me not to be focused on what’s in front of us but seeking Him first, believing that He loves us and has a plan for us.

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