I've always loved to play soccer. It was my life, and as i grew up I had a dream. It was my greatest desire to play soccer in college. I worked hard and when the time came that I was talking to different coaches and had picked a team it seemed like everything went wrong. Doors, windows, nooks and cracks all closed before me. I felt like God had put a giant stop sign in my path and I was devastated.
At first my prayers were somewhat angry and motivated by the big "why" question. But the response was always silence. It took a long time to move on. It was discouraging to see old teammates and hear of their successes. I would intentionally take the long way home to avoid driving past soccer fields. It was just too painful to see. However, as time passed I began to figure out who I was without soccer. I got involved in school and with friends. But every time i received an offer to play soccer in a casual league I would refuse or avoid the situation all together.
I hadn't realized... That during this time, in the cavity of my heart where the love of soccer had once flourished, a new desire was growing in the fertile soil. It wasn't until I was standing at a pulpit, months into my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and 2 years after graduating high school, that my Father in Heaven lovingly answered the question that I had longed to understand. In that moment, as I stood in front of a congregation filled with people that I loved immensely, I knew why i had reached that stop sign years ago. Instantly, I understood that if I had followed my dream and played soccer competitively in college, then my life would have taken a different course....I would not have served a mission and been standing where I stood. I began to cry. As tears coursed down my face I shared my testimony of God's loving plan and the healing that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I simply stated, "God had a plan for me that was greater and more glorious than I could possibly imagine and I am ETERNALLY grateful"
My mission changed me. It helped me come to know my savior and myself, to become who the Lord prepared me to be. I praise the day my plans changed, because God's plan changed me.
"But even when our plans fall through, Heavenly Father does not abandon His children. There are multiple good ways for life to work out. In time, we may even find that the roadblocks that changed our plans gave us needed insight and experience (see D&C 122:7) and led to something better." (July 2012 Ensign, When Good Plans Don’t Work Out, Stephanie J. Burns)
I now play soccer weekly for a casual city league and I am having a blast!