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“Why be mediocre, when you can be extraordinary?” This is a statement that will both encourage me and haunt me throughout the rest of my life. This was the statement said to me on my first day as a division 1 volleyball player by my coach. This statement can be said to thousands and to them it is just another quote of inspiration. This is not the case with me. This statement was a challenge that I had to conquer. I was OBSESSED.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with living by this statement. If anything, it is a great statement to live your life by! You will never make excuses and ultimately you will find success. To any outsider I did have success during my collegiate career; Virginia Freshman and Player of the Year, Conference Player of the year, multiple All- Tournament teams, Tournament MVP’s, conference Player of the Year, #3 in the nation in triple doubles, Honorable Mention All- American and 2000-2009 Conference All- Decade Honoree. These honors were nice, but they were not enough. I did not celebrate these achievements. Each honor added more of a burden to do better the next time around. I would not allow myself to be satisfied with anything. I believed that if I was satisfied, then I would become relaxed in my training and never be great. I saw this way of life as that of someone training to be extraordinary. I was in CONTROL.
Here are the facts of my senior year Fall 2009 season; I entered preseason on a high dose of anti- depressants which caused me to be restless, I kept my roommates in the dark on my mental health, I removed myself from the relationships I had formed on the team and decided that my Coach’s words were more important than the Word of God. Without going into too much detail, for it is a long story, I ended up leaving school after the semester was over. I finished my schooling online. God showed me that He could strip me of everything that I believed to be important with an injury less than 3mm long. I had failed my team, my coach and my family. I had become just another statistic of athletes whom had a career ending injury. I was washed up and forgotten by my community. I was a FAILURE.
I was angry. I didn’t care anymore. I loved God, but I let the world decide what was best for me. I immersed myself with the wrong people and allowed myself to do things that I knew were wrong. Drinking, partying and bitterness replaced prayer, devotion and peace. But I didn’t care; I was mediocre now, so nothing mattered. I was LOST.
As fast as my life had changed in college, it changed just as fast again. I moved back home and re- entered the life that had been recently foreign to me. I realized that I had been a prodigal child and yet, nobody knew it. I only saw mediocrity when I looked in the mirror and so, it became an obsession to be perfect. I relied on my abusive friendship with compulsive rituals to help solve this quest for perfection. These habits caused me to spiral back into anxiety and depression. I substituted my faith for works. The mirror that originally reflected only mediocrity now reflected shame. I had knowingly sinned against my Creator. I had disappointed God. I had failed my God. I was a DISAPPOINTMENT.
I believed that I had to humble myself to God through self-hate and self- harm. I believed that I had to earn God’s trust and love. I believed that I had to hold onto my shame, for if I let go of it, it would be like accepting that my sinful actions were acceptable. I was CONFUSED.
I don’t know why God would want someone so confused and damaged, but He did. In His perfect timing, God introduced just the right people into my life. When these people met me I could not accept love, so they pursued me. I could not read scripture nor pray out loud, so they taught me confidence. I would try and run, but they showed me persistence. I would deny their words, but they showed me patience. I refused peace, so they would hold me until I was calm. I could not face my shame, so they denounced its authority for me. I could not see the truth, so they immersed me in it. They showed me that I was a High Priestess, Fearfully and Wonderfully made, a Champion for Christ and Forgiven. The only problem was I didn’t want to fully accept it. I was STUBBORN.
I grew up listening to gut wrenching testimonies from people who said they didn’t realize how bad it was until they hit rock bottom. I was no different. Even though I had an army fighting my battles, I still allowed my stubbornness to ultimately propel me into a mental health hospital. I was in denial of what was happening. I was only 24 years old and my life was in complete chaos. This was not how my life was supposed to turn out. I found that after 3 years of fighting the truth, I was EXHAUSTED.
I will never forget the night before I was released from the hospital. Earlier that morning my parents decided that they wanted me to move with them to Texas. They believed that it would be good for me to be around family and to have time to heal. I was torn on the decision, but agreed to move. That night I was sitting in the common area reading a devotional book. A woman, who had attempted suicide the day before, approached me and asked me what I was reading. Instead of becoming anxious, shameful or scared, I decided to read aloud to her. As it turns out others heard me reading. When I looked up from the book, 4 other patients had joined our circle. After 5 minutes, our little book club had grown to about 8 people. We shared testimonies. We talked about God. We talked about His grace. We talked about His sacrifice. It was starting to get late and our group was starting to disperse. I had planned on trying to remove myself from the group without anybody seeing me, but before I knew it, I asked the group if I could pray for them instead. This was the defining moment in my life. Days before this moment, I would have gone into an incapacitating anxiety attack, full of shaking, jerking, stuttering and the overwhelming need to run away at even the mention of me having to pray out loud in front of people. The difference at this moment was that the Holy Spirit calmed me and whispered, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” And He was with me. I was FREE.
I wish I could say that after that moment I was perfect and that I never dealt with the temptations of my intrusive rituals; however that is not the case. It took many more months and many more challenging moments to completely expel my prior way of thinking. It is only by God’s amazing grace that today, I am CHANGED.
So, “Why be mediocre, when you can be extraordinary?” I still live by this mantra; however I do not see myself as mediocre. If I was mediocre, I would still be obsessed with perfection. If I was mediocre, I would still believe that I am in control of everything in my life. If I was mediocre, I would still see myself as a failure. If I was mediocre, I would still be lost in my destructive thoughts. If I was mediocre, then I would still be a disappointing mess. If I was mediocre, I would still be confused about the difference between truth and lies. If I was mediocre, I would still be stubbornly defending my abusive lifestyle. If I truly was mediocre, I would be exhausted with the fight and I would be dead. A mediocre person gives up, but I am not mediocre. I am alive and extraordinary because HE is the ultimate I AM!