Gratitude Through Your Gifts


USA swimmer Caitlin Leverenz shares that the best way to thank God is to use the gift He’s given you for His glory and not your own.

I grew up attending church and began going to (the student group) Young Life in high school. That’s when I started growing in my relationship with God and sharing my faith more.

When I got to the University of California, I immediately looked for a Christian group I could get plugged into. I met football player and Athletes in Action student leader David Seawright and wanted to be part of it. I saw how his faith and athletics were both such a big part of his life and what a leader he was, and immediately knew that’s where I belonged. I aspired to be like him.

I got closer to other swimmers and we started attending the weekly AIA meetings together and getting more involved. I think we have challenged each other; I know they have really challenged me. We all came in at pretty different places in our faith, and it’s fun to see how we have all grown.

My sophomore year, I wanted so badly to talk to all the girls on the team about my faith and just scream it out, but that wasn’t really the best way to go about it. No one else was interested. But this year, we had a bunch of freshmen come in who, in the first week, asked me about AIA and now come weekly to the meeting and to our women’s team Bible study. It’s been cool for me to have these women come in who want to wholeheartedly follow Jesus like I do and to explore our faith together.

I think girls on my team would say they see something different in us, and they are interested in that and ask questions. So it’s been pretty special to have not only girls who have a background like mine come in, but girls who aren’t even believers at all who now are interested in learning about Jesus.

Applying my faith to my swimming is something I’m still learning every day. Growing up, my mom always told me, “You’ve been blessed with this amazing gift that God has given you, just use it to the best of your abilities.”  I realize more and more now how true that is. The best way I feel I can thank God is to use the gift He’s given me for His glory and not my own.  Whether that be working really hard in practice or reaching out to a teammate who is down, being kind to a competitor, having Bible study and sharing my faith with my teammates or before my races, just saying, “This is in Your hands, and I’m going to go and see what happens.” 

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