The Spirit of the Game: Reflections from Ashley Badders of EU Field Hockey

     I can’t honestly say I have always intertwined my faith and my sport. Looking back, I have always had a passion for field hockey, but for reasons different than I do today. My determination came from things like the recognition, the awards received and the headline in the newspaper about how well the game was played the night before. At the time, those things seemed like the logical, “right” things by which to be motivated.

     However, once I allowed the Lord to come into my heart in high school, the game I once loved became so much more important, but for a different reason. Today, I can say being an athlete means trusting in the Lord wholeheartedly. Without the gifts the Lord has given me, being an athlete would be almost impossible. I believe field hockey is one portion of my life that challenges my faith the most. 1 Corinthians 9:25 reads, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (NIV). I go into each and every game with this verse at the forefront of my thoughts. It is a constant reminder of the real prize I wish to receive that is so much bigger than any win. It is very easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and to be captivated by worldly desires.

     However, being at Eastern has taught me that I am so much more than the game I play. I play for a prize so much bigger than a win. The prize I play for is to be with my Lord Jesus Christ. I play with a body God has graciously given me to use. Every time I step on the field I try with my innermost being to exemplify Christ. Yet every game this continues to be a challenge. Every time I hear an unwanted call, witness a foul play and unfair advantage, my initial response is to want to reply with anger and hostility. However, it is during these obstacles when God reins me back in. It is almost as if God taps me on the shoulder and says “I am with you. Just be me.” It is so beautiful and almost indescribable. Seeking the Lord first on the field hockey field has taught me how to be a better leader, verbally, physically and emotionally.

     Philippians 2:4-5 reads, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (ESV). Over time, I have grown to understand these verses. Being a field hockey player has taught me how to be a better servant. These verses remind me that even after long days of classes and practice I am still called to serve and love on my teammates. At times this can be challenging for me because I like to keep to myself (especially when I’m stressed). But again it is the Lord who continuously pushes me to be a servant even when I don’t feel well-equipped. It is in Him that I find the strength and courage to continue playing the sport I love.

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