By Michele Volk
To say I liked sports growing up would be a bit of an understatement.
Basketball, soccer, softball, field hockey, football, basically anything with a ball; I played it. And I loved it. I loved the grit, the sweat, the long hours, the soreness; I loved every last bit of it. To walk out onto the field and play the game that I loved, I could think of nothing better. Until that game comes to a screeching halt: you get injured.
Probably the most earth-shattering thing for an athlete is to get injured and not be able to play. (Ok that's a little dramatic but I bet that all the athletes out there would agree with me). You work your butt off, you put in the long hours, you know you have the ability to play and there you are stuck on the sidelines with a stupid injury.
In my own athletic career, I never seemed to valiantly get hurt like some people. You know, like the girl that breaks her ankle while scoring a goal, or that other girl that dislocates her shoulder sliding into home for the go-ahead run. Nope, not me. I always managed to injure myself at practice or warming up for a game. Very un-heroic. Like in high school, I was a goalkeeper warming up for a game and somehow managed to dive into the inside of the goal? I was out for a week with a sprained ankle. Now, how you get a sprained ankle from diving into a goal is still a mystery to me. Well played Michele, well played. Okay... end of side tangent.
I hated being injured. Not only for not being able to play, but because now I became dependent on those around me. I now couldn't do things I normally could. Whether it was walking, doing my hair, carrying my things or getting dressed, I now became incapable of even the simplest of tasks. And I hated it. One thing I've learned over the years is that I like to do things on my own. I'm stubborn. I don't like receiving help from others. I loved helping others but never liked being helped. I think some of that came from being an athlete. Always working hard for me, so that I could be the best. Always having to prove that I was good enough, that I could do it and do it on my own. So when the injuries came, my pride was shot and I was forced to receive.
A week ago I re-irritated an old back injury I had in high school. And, in staying true to myself, I did it in the most lame way ever. I literally tried standing up and quickly found myself laying on the floor unable to get up. My 23 year old body aged about 5o years in a matter of seconds. I needed assistance simply to stand up and was hobbling around like a grandma (no offense grandmas, I love you all). I couldn't even get out of the car on my own. Talk about humbling.
Once again I found myself forced to receive.
Isn't it funny how certain themes consistently pop up in your life? The past five months I've been living as a missionary up in the Arctic Tundra of Minnesota. I work with youth at a catholic school for the year along with seven other teammates. Something that keeps coming up in my life this year is learning to receive. Which is ironic because when I think of missionary work I think of giving. I think of helping others. I came into this year so ready to give all of myself to the mission. And then the Lord whispered, learn to receive. And I heard that and thought cool yea, sure I can do that, ya know kind of half listening.
Until He quite literally
knocked me off my feet with it.
Learn to receive. With each passing day I am seeing more and more how this year is teaching me to receive. This entire year, I am completely and totally dependent on the generosity of other people. I quite literally could not be doing what I am doing if it wasn't for the family, friends, and strangers that have stepped up to support me. I don't make much money, but the small stipend I do receive is only because of generous donors. I don't have a house. The only reason I have a roof over my head and food every night is because families have so generously offered to open up their home to take us in for weeks at a time.
For a stubborn person like me,
that's a lot of humble pie to swallow.
So why? Why learn to receive? Laying on my back and reflecting this past week, I am reminded of how weak I am. Yes currently I am a cripple but it's deeper than that. The only reason I have ever been able to give in my life is because of what the Lord has given me. Without Him I literally can't do squat. It wasn't until I was incapacitated that I was able to see that He'd been trying to get my attention, but I was just too stubborn to see it. He gave me no other choice. No other choice then to receive.
Let me get one thing straight. There is a lot of giving this year, that is for sure. But I first and foremost must learn how to receive if I ever want to be able to give. It is not on my accord that I am able to love or that I am able to give to others. I can only love because I've first been loved. I can only give because I've first been given to. It would be like me trying to teach someone to ride a bike, but I had never learned how to ride myself. It is only on the accord of the one who made me that I am able to do these things. It's only in receiving that I am able to give.
Slowly but surely He is taking a little ice pick and chipping away at my stubbornness. I still have a long way to go. I still want to carry my bags, I still want to take care of myself, I still want to solve all of my problems on my own, but I am learning; learning to receive. Whether it's allowing my teammates to serve me or the families to feed me, it's in these moments that the Lord is teaching me. It is through these people that He is ultimately serving me.
So whether I'm crippled by a lame injury or completely healthy, it's up to me to receive it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michele Volk is a recent graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in Communication Arts. Originally from the city of brotherly love, she is currently serving as a missionary in Minnesota with the organization NET Ministries. She loves anything sports, photography, and is always down for a spontaneous dance party. She blogs at michelevolk.weebly.com