in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Two years ago I was an avid tennis player and was playing better than ever. My doubles partner and I had incredible on-court chemistry that allowed us to obtain a near perfect winning record—beating many teams with far greater skill. We were known and respected in our tennis circles. I was as successful in the sport as I’ll ever be.
Playing tennis allowed me to have fun, socialize, compete and win—all while the kids were at school. Life was good for this stay-at-home mom.
Then, it wasn’t. In the last match of the season, I stretched to return a low ball and something gave way in my elbow. I lamely and painfully finished the match but knew something was really wrong.
An MRI confirmed the doctor’s initial diagnosis: tennis elbow. Prognosis: take it easy for six weeks. Ninety percent of the cases resolve quickly on their own. I was sure mine would too.
However, six weeks turned into six months. A year later my elbow still hadn’t completely healed. During that time, I searched for a cure. Massage, cortisone shots, physical therapy, braces, electric stimulation and even acupuncture. An orthopedic surgeon said my elbow would likely heal on its own, although it might take several years. Unless the pain was severe or I needed to use my elbow in my work, the doctor didn’t recommend surgery.
Finally I had to tell my partner and the teams that were waiting for me that I wouldn’t be coming back in the foreseeable future. I gave up my spots and told them to move on.
A big part of my life was gone. I was crushed. Other people face far greater struggles than not being able to play tennis, but I mourned the loss. I missed socializing, playing and being known as a tennis player. I missed the schedule that ordered my days and the security I found in it. I felt lost.
I prayed for healing and guidance. And I started doing what I hadn’t found time to do when I was playing tennis—I started to write. A lot. I started a blog and wrote regularly for my church newsletter. People said my words touched them. I attended a writers’ conference and met kindred spirits. I joined a writers’ group and submitted articles. Eventually, I was published.
Volunteer opportunities opened up to help in a food pantry and soup kitchen. I was available to reach out to friends, share my talents in new ways and spend time with the Lord. I could say “yes” far more than I said “no.”
I’m still adjusting to this new life of mine, but now instead of asking for healing, I pray, “I’m here for you, Lord. Show me where you need me to go. Use me.”
According to the doctors, one day my elbow will heal and I’ll be able to play tennis again. When that day comes, I’ll probably return to the game I still love. But after living a far more God-directed life I don’t think I’ll ever go back to life as it was.
I miss the wins on the tennis court. But, I’d trade them all for the victories I’ve experienced in the courts of the Kingdom of God.
Have you experienced loss, discouragement or a change in plans and are struggling to find direction in your present? God promises that no matter what our circumstances He has a good and perfect plan. Soak in His words of assurance in Psalm 25:4, 37:23, 65:11 and 119:105; Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 29:11; and John 10:27.
"In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps" ~ Proverbs 16:9