In Romans 12:2 Paul writes, “Do not conform yourself to the standards of this
world but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of mind.”
Inwardly. Something that happens from the inside out. Something that the human
eye may not be able to see. Something that has to occur through seeing life
through God’s view. From the moment I stepped foot in Uganda God opened my
eyes, more importantly opened my heart, to the beauty that is found within Him.
Each day my faith was transformed, I was transformed, which was not by my own
accord but as a gift from Him.
Identity. Strength. Purpose. Discipline. Focus. Intensity. Excellence. Selflessness.
Boldness. Perseverance. Accountability. Patience. Twelve days in Uganda. Twelve
lessons learned. Each morning I would read through a different set of devotionals
and throughout that day God would bring them to life right before my eyes. While
they all had a significant impact on me there were a few that I will carry with me
for the rest of my life: identity, boldness, and purpose.
My path leading up to this trip wasn’t necessarily a conventional one. There were
a lot of ups and downs, back and forth, and overall feelings of uncertainty. Where
I was confident in my identity as a woman of color and being an athlete, I
struggled to add Christian to that mix. I felt like I didn’t measure up to other
Christians and fell short in more ways than one. There were a lot of boxes I still
had to check off before I could call myself a Christian. I was on again off again
with my relationship with God which didn’t quite qualify me to spread His word
with anyone let alone the people of Uganda. Everyone around me could spout off
verses off the top of their head that fit perfectly with the current situation and I
could barely remember what books were in the Gospel. Because of this I had
planned to take the backseat to everyone else throughout this trip and let them
take the lead. I thought it would be easy to hang out in the shadows because
everyone else had so much more to offer than me. I’ve always been a
perfectionist. In every aspect of my life everything had to be perfect. Or at least
appear to be. If it wasn’t perfect it wasn’t for me. Praying. Journaling. Preaching.
Evangelizing. Not for me. I could never put the perfect words into a prayer or
write the perfect quote when journaling. I could never create the perfect message
to preach or tell the perfect testimony when evangelizing. Yet God doesn’t expect
us to be perfect. It is through our imperfections, our weaknesses, that God best
uses us. When I began to admit my weaknesses and be content with them I
allowed God to use me for his purpose. I found my voice in Uganda. And that is
the greatest gift that He could ever give me. There is no greater feeling than being
able to use my own experiences, the good and the bad, to spread the abundance
of God’s love. For me, many of these experiences occurred through sports. And
my time in Uganda made me realize that many of the lessons we learn through
sports go hand in hand with the messages we see throughout the bible. Imagine
my surprise when I realized I could use sport, a “perfect” area in my life, to share
the word of God. Identity. Boldness, Purpose.
Uganda, you have opened my eyes and changed my life for the better. Initially I
thought God was leading me there because you needed me but, in the end, it was
I who needed you. You taught me to find the joy in every moment. You showed
me how to truly appreciate the little things life. You reminded me to take a step
back to admire God’s beauty that is all around us. You taught me patience. You
taught me simplicity. You taught me hope. You taught me love. Uganda, from the
people to the places, every part of you I will always carry with me in my heart.