Dealing With Injuries as a Professional Athlete: Realistic NFL Reflections
Welcome to the NFL. It’s bright lights and dreams come true until it’s not. Dealing with injuries is a regular part of professional football, but that doesn’t make them lose their sting. I experienced an injury recently and it left me with time to reflect on the reality of something with so much weight.
The hardest part about dealing with injuries is not the injury itself, but the reality that it’s so much more than that. In football, an injury is tied to your job, your worth, and your success. Healing is a long journey made up of 100 daily battles.
The rehab can feel monotonous – doing the same thing over and over again every single day, waiting for it to get better. It’s a test more of the mind than of the body and trying to beat your own timeline can feel crushing. Living at the mercy of God’s timing for your body to repair is excruciating. Trying to get back in shape and get back into the normal routine you were in prior to the injury feels impossible. Dealing with the confidence issues that come along because you’re not able to do what you want in the way that you want is frustrating. Then, fighting the thoughts that you might not ever be able to get back to game feels like a nightmare.
Healing never happens on the timeline that I want.
The list goes on and on. Dealing with injury is pure exhaustion from every angle.
You’re exhausted from trying to stay positive.
You’re exhausted from the timeline. You’re exhausted from trying to pray your way through it.
My job is not my God; my body is not my God; and my paycheck is not my God. My God is my God.
My livelihood depends on my body's ability to stay healthy, and then get healthy when it’s injured. It’s a test in the natural, the mental, and the spiritual. I need to get better so I can work. I need to get better so that my mind can stop racing. I need to get better so I can stop fighting sadness and depression and remember who I am. These are the thoughts that plague my mind.
But healing never happens on the timeline that I want. Can you relate?
There’s nothing stress-free about healing an injury, but on the team, we have a saying, “A win is a win.” It doesn’t matter how big or small. And we will take every single win and for as many days as we can. Even days without a loss is a win. Consistency is a win.
When I'm injured, I hold onto humility. I'm reminded of my humanity. I recall that my job is not my God; my body is not my God; and my paycheck is not my God. My God is my God and it doesn't matter if I'm injured or not...everything is okay and will be okay because of Him and nothing else.
You might never know what it feels like to have a football injury, but I bet you know what it’s like to long-suffer. If no one has told you today, “A win is a win” and while healing feels forever away, it’s moving toward us both as God protects us in the middle.