By Anna Boyles
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother [and sister] is born for a time of adversity.”
Coming to college I had certain expectations and certain fears that I had already created in my head for myself. Some of them were associated with my academics, some with my social life, but most of them were with soccer.
Growing up I had played soccer with the same group of girls since we were 6 years old. We were best friends. We knew how each other played. We trusted each other and were very successful. So, coming to play soccer at Northwestern not only meant leaving that group of girls, but it meant leaving my home state of Kentucky behind. And I’ll be honest, I was nervous. My hometown was fairly small. I had always done well in school and had known all my teachers. I had a church family around me all the time, so I knew I could rely on them if I ever needed them. I’d known my childhood teammates my entire life. We grew up together on a soccer field. I didn’t have to “get to know them.” I had always known them. Now, though, all that I had known was 14 hours away. Me being the independent person I am, it wasn’t always easy for me to make friends very fast. But, right away, during soccer training camp, our team grew extremely close and we became great friends. However, it wasn’t until this year that I realized just how much that friendship really meant to me.
Near the end of last season, I got a concussion. This concussion ended up causing a lot more trouble for me than anyone thought it would and made me miss the rest of that season, our spring season, summer training, and now most of our fall season. I was devastated. I was so afraid that I would grow disconnected from my team during all of this since I wasn’t able to play. I never voiced it, but in my head, I knew that since I was so far away from my support system back home, I needed my team now more than ever. But I was scared that they wouldn’t be there. And by this point, I was so frustrated and confused with God that I wasn’t really talking to Him very much.
But, my fears were far from the truth. My teammates not only remained connected, they have become my strongest support system. They have helped me stay positive through everything. Regardless of the medical test or even the doctor visit on my 19th birthday, my teammates have been right by my side. Whenever I need someone to talk to, they are here. And, when I don’t want to talk, they help me get my mind off recovery: we go to the movies, shopping, or just hang out. My team is always here to pick me up when I’m down and they always have my back. They also continue to remind me that I have to trust God even when I’m frustrated and don’t understand what He’s doing. He is where I find my identity and He has control of my life.
As I think about our relationship over the past two years, I realize that it has changed. Last year when we first got on campus for training camp, we were total strangers. By the end of the season, we were best friends. Now, we are family. Actually, we are an extraordinary family. We support one another through any and all adversity, whether we feel like we need the help or not. Sure, there are days that we need space and want to be alone, but there are also days that we need a shoulder to cry on. No matter the circumstance, we always know that we have a whole team of soccer-sisters who have each other’s backs. And, when the moment comes that one of us can’t make it on her own, the rest of the team is there.
No matter how independent you think you may be, there comes a point in life when you simply can’t remain alone. Just like players on a soccer field, we each have our own talents and our own responsibilities. We cannot isolate ourselves and expect to achieve all that God has planned for us. God expects us to have relationships with one another. He desires for us to support each other and to allow ourselves to be supported. As a matter of fact, you need to know that you aren’t and never were truly alone in the first place. Whether it be someone in your dorm, a bible study group, a classmate, or on your sports team, someone is always there to support you and love you. God never leaves you. He uses the other people in our lives to remind us of His presence. He is always right here – just waiting with open arms.