As I jogged behind the goal to get the ball, my coached shouted five words at me I couldn’t believe he was even allowed to say. When I heard them, my whole body flushed with fear. I could feel my heart throb through my body as it reverberated in my veins. I wished he took them back or told them to someone else.
I was the goalkeeper for the third best soccer team in the nation, and I was great at what I did. I made phenomenal diving, game-winning saves. I slid and stole the ball from forwards who dribbled into the box and flipped them head-over-heels. I blocked penalty kicks left and right.
But as I carried the ball back to the field, whatever courage I had evaporated; his words were like the salt remnants in the basin of my mind: “Nathaniel! Take the goal kick!”
No, no, no. Me? I can’t take the goal kick! I never do! I can hardly hit the ball ten yards in the air! I’ve tried and tried, and I always mess it up and kick it to the wrong person. I’m going to screw it up, and it’ll be my fault we get scored on. I can’t do this!
After scuffing a few goal kicks in practices, I developed the belief that I was doomed to fail at it. I agreed with the lie that success wasn’t possible for me. And any time I tried, I ended up totally whiffing.
A decade later, I find myself thinking I’m going to whiff in other ways. When I want to dance in front of a group or talk to a stranger on the bus or get free from my addiction, I’m that same twelve-year-old boy trembling at the thought of doing something I’ve told myself I can’t do.
I don’t know how, so I’m not going to try. I’m not good enough, so I’m going to keep to myself. I can’t do it, and I’m going to be stuck for the rest of my life.
What do you tell yourself when you’re lined up to kick the ball? When you try to stop cutting yourself or taking that drug or drinking that drink? When you think about breaking up with him because he’s not good for you? When you think about chasing your dreams? When you think about forgiving yourself? Or forgiving them? When you think about being honest and confessing? When you try to believe you’re worth more than that?
One time before practice, I was kicking around with some friends, and I took a shot from the middle of the field. I was still hitting the ball the same way I would on a goal kick, but this time I was facing a different way. So, in my mind, I was kicking a shot instead of a goal kick. And when I did, the ball leapt off my foot and sailed over the crossbar before it hit the ground. Looking back, I realize it wasn’t that my legs weren’t able to kick the ball as far as it needed to go; it was that I told myself I couldn’t, and my legs simply did what I believed they could do.
What if we’re stuck in our addictions because we tell ourselves there’s no way out? What if we have no friends because we’ve convinced ourselves we aren’t good enough to have any? What if we keep making the wrong choices and doing bad things because we’ve told ourselves that’s just who we are?
And what if we really could hit the goal kick if we just believed we could?
Instead of being afraid I’m going to fail and start my sobriety over, I tell myself I’m porn free for the past ten years. I tell myself I know how to live a life without it because I’ve been doing it for the 3,700 days of my life. I tell myself being porn free is the only thing I know now, and today is just another one of those days.
In other words, I believe in myself. I believe in what I want as if it were already here.
I am good enough.
I am courageous.
I am a masterpiece.
I am beautiful.
I am free.
God believes in you. He created you perfectly. There is hope because the truth is YOU CAN. Being who you want to be and doing what you want to do starts with you believing you are and believing you can.
We believe in you. You have what it takes. Choose to believe in yourself too.
What’s the most important thing you want to believe about yourself today?