My senior year of high school was one of my favorite years in my soccer career. I was an all-state goalkeeper for the second year in a row, my high school team was picked as a pre-season state champion contender, and I had already accepted a scholarship to play at Arkansas State University the summer before my senior year began.
The stage had been set for me to have the perfect last season at Brentwood High School.
One of our district rivals was a newer high school that had split off of my high school 3 or 4 years earlier, so they’d never really been that good at anything — until my senior year.
The first time we played them that year, it was at our home field. They had this up and coming freshman superstar forward who was all the rage in local sports news that year, and I was bound and determined to put her in her place. And actually, I did. We won that night.
There was this one moment in the game that I can still replay second-for-second in my mind. She was coming at me on a breakaway, and I had to stop her. So after I did, I got up and (trash talker that I was) had a few encouraging words for her, and sent her crying on her way. Well, her older brother was not so happy about that, so for the rest of the game, he and his friends stood right behind my goal and taunted me.
They kept calling me names like “Becky the Ice Box” — rude. What they didn’t know was that they were just fueling the fire for me to want to win.
We won the game, but it didn’t end there. They actually came to two or three of my games after that, against other opponents, just to taunt me.
Enter my Dad. He’s my biggest fan, and even more passionately competitive than I am. I’ll never really know exactly what he said to them, but finally one night he got fed up with those boys. So he walked over, and as far as I know he said something along the lines of, “If you don’t stop taunting my daughter I will see to it that you never see another game, and that your life is far more miserable than you’ve tried to make hers.”
Boom. They were never a problem again.
I look back on that story and the way my Dad got rid of those boys, and I realize that he was teaching me something about God’s heart in that moment. I’m not sure if he knew that at the time — I think he was just mad at them — but what I learned from that whole thing was that God is a Dad who fights for me when I can’t fight for myself.
I ended up playing my very last high school soccer game against that same school. We lost to them in overtime in our district final, and didn’t advance to the state tournament like we were supposed to. I was devastated.
I’ll never forget walking across the field after the game, tears in my eyes, to my Dad’s arms. My Mom was standing right next to him crying just as much as I was. He told me he was proud of me and assured me that the best was yet to come — and he was right.
Back in January, I had a similar moment in God’s arms. Noland and I had been trying to get pregnant for about six months, and I was starting to get discouraged. At the time we had only told a few of our friends about that journey, and one night, one of them came over with a gift.
It was a tiny pair of newborn baby shoes with a note that said, “A faith statement to remind you that you have a team of support behind you. Sometimes it takes a village to see a dream fulfilled.”
From that day on, I began to hold those tiny shoes when I prayed for our family every morning. It was doing a deep work in my heart of learning how to (literally) hold a promise open handed. Prophetic acts can be a little bit silly, though, so one morning as I prayed I was just sort of laughing about it.
As I sat there giggling I said, “God, do you do this with me? Do you sit in the throne room of Heaven and hold my shoes and fight for all the places I’ve yet to step into?”
In the very next moment I was weeping on the floor of my living room at the realization that this is exactly what He does with me. “Of course I do,” He said. “I fight for you so much harder than you’ll ever fight for yourself.”
Suddenly I was back on that soccer field in the arms of my Dad, the one who had fought for me. I was disappointed yet deeply satisfied, discouraged yet inexplicably hopeful.
Things hadn’t looked the way I imagined them to go in my head, and it felt like a bitter ending to a journey I was deeply emotionally invested in. But there was a reminder that it really isn’t my burden to carry.
Sometimes all we’re supposed to do is stay in the game, and know that He who promised is not only faithful, but actively fighting for us in the process.
I’m so thankful that He fights for me. I’m so thankful that I need only to be still.