My friend Maria loves soccer. She plays any position, but she usually plays midfielder on both a school team and a select travel team. She was on that travel team when they won the state tournament. In an interview recently, she explained some ideas that have helped her game.
Why do you play soccer?
It's fun. I'm good at it.
What would you say to someone who wants to play but isn't so good?
Practice. Get involved in a league where there's not so much competition. You want to play and get the practice without the pressure.
Do you feel pressure to win?
If I haven't done well, or the team hasn't and we're feeling down, I know I need to change my thought. I always relate soccer to what I know about God. I know God doesn't care if we lose a game. He won't love us less. My parents won't love me less. That takes the pressure off. Then I think about how God gives me the power to do well. That always calms me and gives me a lift. Then I play better.
How do you feel if you lose a game?
It's not terrible to lose. You can't win every game. I'm never mad if I did my best. If we lose, it's because the other team was better. We can learn something about how to play better.
Do you ever pray about your game?
Sure. Not too long ago we had two games in one day. We lost the first and were really bummed. We were thinking of all sorts of stuff that would keep us from winning, like "They're so big."
Then I thought about what I know about God. He is perfect, He is powerful, and He is All. And to what I know about myself - I am His child, and He made me just like Himself. So, I thought, "God can do all good. I'm His child." That definitely changed my thinking. I felt confident. We won the next game 2-0.
Another time a girl on my team tore a leg muscle and was crying. She had a lot of pain. I talked to her and I was thinking, "You're God's child." Every time I thought about her, I remembered that she was God's child and God wouldn't let her be hurt.
Can you tell me more about how prayer helps you?
What I know about God helps me. In Sunday School and at home, I've learned I'm God's child. I'm really spiritual, like God, who is Spirit. Like I said, I always relate soccer to what I know about God.
I pray with a line of a hymn. It starts like this: "I walk with Love along the way" ("Christian Science Hymnal," No. 139). (With a capital L, Love means God.) But I think, "I play soccer with God along the way." I know I'm not alone. This makes me feel good and it gives me confidence to play well.
I've also memorized something from a book called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The author, Mary Baker Eddy, described man as being perfect (that means all of us, kids and women, too).
[Editors' note: for example, one statement says, "The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God" (pg. 475). We can reason that we are perfect and good because God is perfect and good.]
Tell us about a personal victory you had.
I've been healed of injuries more than once by praying to God. Last Sunday, I injured my ankle. I could walk, but it was really painful if I turned my foot. The coaches said lots of things: put ice on it, get a bandage, go to the doctor and get it X-rayed.
My mom prayed and gave me ideas to pray with. I thought about how I'm not really made of skin and bones to be hurt, but that I'm really made like God - spiritual. God, who is Spirit, made me. On Monday my ankle was a little sore, but by Tuesday I could move my foot with no problem.
Maria, do you have any final advice for kids who want to play well?
Keep going. Don't give up.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society