My time here at X Project thus far has been so influential in many ways. Immersed within an environment centered on Christ, it’s almost as if by interning at Athletes in Action’s headquarters the Lord has confirmed to me that athlete ministry is the career path I should follow after college. On our first day, an AIA staff member gave us interns a tour around headquarters. I remember getting butterflies in my stomach hearing about AIA’s history, mission, and vision, its various projects and ministries around the country, and the impact it has had on the lives of athletes and staff members. The butterflies have only intensified throughout my time here. Having project dinners, spending time in the office with my fellow interns, and helping lead at the high school Ultimate Training Camp has shown me that working for AIA truly is a life goal of mine.
However, while submerged in this ministry “bubble” I have still struggled. I consider myself to be a fairly honest individual and I will state that there are aspects of this internship that have not meshed well with my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and struggles with anxiety. For those of you who may not know, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a psychological disorder in which an individual partakes in compulsions to ease anxiety brought by excessive and intrusive thoughts and obsessions. This disorder coupled with stress usually does not mix well and unfortunately, I have not made the greatest decisions because of this conflict in my past.
I want to say that these issues haven’t affected me here at X Project. I so desperately want to believe that because I anticipate a career in athlete ministry, these problems will not persist. But I am human. Even though I know my transgressions are wiped away because of Christ, I still let unnatural, unholy thoughts and impulses weave their way into my life. They persist even when I have access to the support of loving brothers and sisters in Christ. They persist even when I know that God is reaching out to me, telling me that I am accepted and worthy and loved as His daughter.
The ironic thing is that being surrounded by loving Christian friends is what contributed to my recent struggles. This may appear incredibly confusing- and possibly the opposite of everything I understand about the Christian faith- but let me give you some context.
Last week for Independence Day, we interns enjoyed a day off from the office. To celebrate, a few interns organized a classic American cook out. You know, grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, eating refreshing and juicy watermelon, and simply enjoying each other’s company. Yet I knew something was off that day. Something within me was saying You don’t feel right, Olivia. Granted, the night before I had a huge anxiety spell but I prayed over it with the Lord. I was anticipating spending time with my friends and relaxing while celebrating good ole American freedom… but my OCD had other plans. Later that afternoon, when we were all hanging around, a wall of anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks and I had to leave the company of my dear friends for an extended time. It’s a scary feeling, not knowing why you feel this way, not knowing why you absolutely must get away from people who could actually help you and pray with you.
I won’t go into too much detail. Even though I am comfortable with being vulnerable about my experiences, there’s too much to unpack for one simple blog post. What’s more, everything I felt that afternoon likely cannot be expressed in words. I will say, however, that I spent a good hour in prayer. I read Scripture and knew that I needed His love and grace. What’s more, I needed to spend time with my brothers and sisters who were celebrating the holiday two floors below me. A fellow intern sought me out that afternoon and we conversed about the whole situation; what she said stuck with me. She made the point that right now, I am closer to the Lord than any other time in my life. I am immersed within a ministry bubble so expansive that I have a better understanding of His Spirit. Yet because of this, Satan has been doing everything in his power to pull me from the Lord. He knows that God has already won, but he also knows that my struggles with OCD can break me and make me contradict my own faith. This internship, though beautiful and indicative of God’s grace and truth, is simultaneously challenging me in my struggles with self-worth, self-harm, anxiety, and beliefs about myself as a competent young Christian woman.
The good news about this experience is that it doesn’t diminish my desire to come on staff. If anything, I want to join AIA more because I know that this sort of environment will be good for my struggles. When things get rough, I know I’ll have loving Christians surrounding me who will support and love me. Plus, as an added bonus, I potentially have the opportunity to counsel other individuals going through similar situations using Scripture and prayer, aspects of the faith that greatly ease these burdens.
To my fellow interns, I simultaneously thank you and apologize for everything. There have been times this summer where anxiety has obviously made it difficult for me to be around you but you have shown nothing but love and patience. You have shown me what true Christ followers look like, and for that, I thank you.
Written by Olivia, XProject Intern