After writing about how players can prepare for injuries, I had a couple of conversations that compelled me to take another look at injuries. Injuries will always be a part of sports and there are very few athletes who survive in their sport without having to deal with them. While we can be wise in our workouts to prepare for them, we also can have a plan for when those catastrophic, season-ending or possibly career-ending injuries occur. And the same occurs in our lives in this world. We’re going to have tough difficult times and sometimes we’ll experience catastrophic, life-changing disappointments. Prayer, real soul-emptying prayer, not only helps us prepare, but it also helps us recover!
BASKETBALL – Injuries don’t have to define you!
In our program we haven’t even started our season and we’ve already lost players with long-term injuries such as a yet-to-be healed ACL tear, a degenerative disc problem, and a broken wrist! Certainly, ongoing physical preparation and conditioning gives an athlete an advantage when presented with long-term recovery and rehab schedules, but often times the psychological and emotional struggles resulting from uncertainty, loss of identity, and changing relationships with teammates can be more difficult to recover from. Basketball has seen its share of horrific injuries in recent years and social media has provided glimpses into the struggles that players go through. Just look at the ups and downs of Derrick Rose in his return from an ACL tear! We also witnessed the horrific leg injury suffered by Louisville’s Kevin Ware in the Elite Eight game against Duke. Not only was the incident played repeatedly, but Twitter and Facebook kept all of us updated with Ware’s diagnosis, prognosis, and every other detail you’d want to know!
Whether an athlete recovers and makes it back from major injury is not an exact science. For every Adrian Peterson miracle comeback out there, delayed setbacks such as those Rose or Robert Griffin III have experienced are just as common, as are the cases of those who never make it back. Since injuries are always a possibility, consider these Athlete Strategies For Injury and Strategies for Helping Injured Athletes from CompetitiveAdvantage.com. These days, anyone can be an expert or play one on TV, but having been around a number of players facing career-ending injury, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is to deal with the psychological and emotional effects.
LIFE – Recovering from the injuries of life.
All of us will deal with “injuries” at some point. They can be physical setbacks and illnesses or they may be in our finances, careers, and relationships. We may lose friendships, lose a job, or lose a family member. We live in a fallen, injured world – but, like many athletes, we can also deal with injury and even overcome the results of injury in life. The injury does not have to define us. I have a loved one who is courageously taking care of her family and serving her church, despite being diagnosed with a neurological challenge that has changed her life. She hasn’t missed a beat! In my life, I’ve had to deal with some major injuries, including a family background that can often send many young people into a death spiral and some career disappointments that have shattered my dreams. While I am not an expert on TV, I have learned a few principles that can help with major injuries of any kind:
1. Don’t Compare: Every athlete is different. Every person is different and the circumstances of injury are different. Expecting your recovery to be exactly the same as another’s is pointless.
2. Practice Patience: Recovery takes time and energy and in many situations, it requires an ongoing focus.
3. Invest in Others: Not only did Kevin Ware’s accident have us glued to the TV, but the way he shifted his focus and support to his teammates drew all of us in. He immediately reached out to others and then throughout his recovery he continues to do the same (see NBC Sports). The lesson is clear – heal yourself by helping others!
4. Pray without Ceasing: Injuries in life can bring you closer to God or drive you away. When prayer is a personal conversation between you and God and you listen to His voice, God provides healing for all of our injuries.
FAITH – Recovery comes through prayer.
Paul knows something about sudden, traumatic injury. Think about it. After God turned his life around, he was a man on a mission, driving his ministry to spread the Gospel by developing and nurturing new groups of believers throughout the world. He was making a difference for Christ. His career was taking off. And in a quick moment, it was all put on hold. He was thrown into prison. Talk about an injury! But look what he did – he didn’t complain and he didn’t compare his situation to others because he knew God had a plan through this injury. In fact, like Kevin Ware, he used his time to invest in others, including you and me, by writing what are known as the “Prison Letters,” the Biblical books of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Those letters reveal the core of his rehab – prayer!
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives . . . Colossians 1:9
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight . . . Philippians 1:9