In 2011, I started high school; I made the freshman volleyball team, I played co-ed soccer, I earned good grades, and I tore my ACL, a month into school. Tearing my ACL was devastating for me, but, in the end, it made me who I am today. Tearing my ACL, and the struggles that came along with it, completely turned my life around. It changed my attitude about life, my perception of myself, and, ultimately, showed me my passion.
Prior to my injury, I had played soccer for eleven years, going on twelve. Not only was I good at soccer, I completely loved and lived for the sport. I found my identity and self-worth in my ability to be an athlete. When I tore my ACL, and that was taken away from me, I fell into a depression. I have always been good at hiding my true emotions, so many people did not realize that I was struggling, not only physically but emotionally. I wanted to appear stronger than what life threw at me, so I woke up and put a smile on my face every day despite the pain. What those people around me did not see was that I was angry with myself for not being perfect and for not being stronger, and I was even angrier with God for doing this to me. I did not understand how a God who loved so deeply could take away my passion. I constantly questioned everything I knew about God and His plan. This depression and questioning of God lasted for the entire month leading up to my ACL surgery. At first, I could not see past the moment and the situation I was in; however, all that changed after surgery.
On October 25, 2011, I underwent ACL reconstruction. This was a day I will never forget because it changed my life (not to mention, it was the day after my fifteenth birthday). For this procedure, my surgeon took a piece of my left hamstring to recreate my ACL that was completely destroyed a month before. Afterwards, I not only regained stability in my knee, but in my life as well. After surgery, I stayed home from school for two full weeks. During this time, I thought I would sink further into depression; however, I had an amazing support system that pulled me out and lifted me up. My older brother gathered homework from my teachers to keep me busy, my friends would come over after school to spend time with me, and my parents were always positive and encouraging. They constantly reminded me of God’s love and His plan that I had doubted so much the month before. I’m still not sure what changed my heart after that surgery, but I am so glad that it did. With this change of heart and attitude, I was able to find my new identity. I realized that I was more than just an athlete; I was determined, supportive, intelligent, loving, and so, so much more.
For six months after surgery, I attended physical therapy two to three times a week. During this time, I was unable to play sports; however, I continued to go to my volleyball and soccer practices and games, where I cheered on and supported my teammates. Before I knew it, my soccer coach had deemed me assistant coach. He believed in my ability on and off the field, and he taught me that there is more than one way to love and appreciate the game. My physical therapists also played a large part in finding my new identity. They always encouraged me and pushed me to be my best. They never let me give up, and, believe me, I tried. They showed me the support, understanding, and empathy I needed to get through such a difficult time. Their actions and their hearts left an indelible mark on my heart, that still guides me today.
Shortly after finishing physical therapy, I came back, but not as a patient. For the rest of my high school and college career, I would spend countless hours at physical therapy encouraging, supporting, and showing empathy to patients, just as my physical therapists had me. I realized that supporting, encouraging, and loving others was my calling, my true passion. I realized I want to help others overcome struggles, the same way my physical therapists helped me. From that time forward, everything I did was to further my passion to become a physical therapist. I did not realize it in the beginning, but tearing my ACL truly changed my life for the better. I am so thankful for my injury because it continues to drive me and has made me who I am today. I am eternally grateful for my faulty ACL that showed me the love and support of my family, my physical therapists who taught me determination, and God who took something that was broken and made it into something beautiful.
I share my ACL story with you today, not because I think y’all can all relate to it, but because I think there is something bigger to learn from it–well, a couple of things.
Throughout the process of recovering from my ACL tear, God turned my vulnerabilities into something that would make me stronger. Stronger in my faith, stronger in my heart, and stronger in myself. God continues to do this in my life today; I have struggled through break ups, lost friendships, loss of loved ones, sickness, and more. But, when I walk through the valleys, He reminds me that He is ever-present and good. In my weaknesses, He strengthens me. He refines my heart, my soul, and my mind; and I am better for it.
There have been times in my life where I have questioned God, even recently. However, I have learned that it is okay because I serve and love a God that is big enough for all my issues, all my anger, and all my questions. I serve and love a God that has chosen me, has sent His only son to die for me, and has loved me every step I that have taken. He does not leave my side–even when I walk through the valleys and even when I question Him.
I have learned that in these times I question God, the only answer is to TRUST in Him. God always has a purpose for the things that He does. I may not know the answers in this life, but I will one day. I have learned–and I am still learning–to trust in God’s purpose, for it is good and to trust in God, for He is good. He is the God who turns the broken into beautiful.
My prayer for you - whatever is broken in your life, look for God's purpose. God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good. Give your worries, your fears, your broken pieces to God and allow Him to turn it into something beautiful.