I haven’t updated you on anything personal in a while and the last few months have put me through the ringer (of emotions) – so get comfy, grab your Moscato & phone charger, because this one’s gonna get messy.
So remember last time – I told you all about the
grueling torture-fest draft? We were elated to find out that the Kansas City Chiefs wanted G. Fast forward a few months: after killing it at OTA’s, & enjoying a super quick couple weeks of vacation, Gehrig headed back to Kansas City for training camp. The first week passed and he continued to excel, learning plays and strengthening his bond with teammates (especially his BFF Patrick.) G was really getting in the groove of playing for the Chiefs – practices came and went and reporters complimented his route-running skills and speed. Everything in Missouri was coming along just fine.
Back in Cleveland? I was losing it.
Let me start by making this very clear: this is no “woe is me” blog post. I consider myself the luckiest person on this planet. I’m sure many people do – but I’ve been blessed in so many ways that it makes me feel guilty. Sometimes, I get anxiety wondering if karma will pay me back for living such a good life – here’s why: I come from the most selfless, loving & supportive family in the world. The intense family drama and dirty laundry aired all over my favorite Netflix series (helloooo Bloodline) is far fetched, but for some families, relatable. As for us Krafts, we’ve lived very peaceful lives. I’ve never dealt with an abusive boyfriend, substance abuse, depression, heartbreak or the death of a close friend. I stumbled upon my soul mate on TWITTER and his love has been the greatest thing I’ve experienced in this life. In our four years of dating, I’ve never second guessed his love or loyalty or questioned if it was meant to be. I’ve (worked hard for, but) lucked out with every job opportunity that has crossed my path. No matter where this wild football-centric life has taken us (Tuscaloosa, Orlando, Kansas City) everything has always fallen into place.
IN MY 24 YEARS – I’VE NEVER HAD A COME TO JESUS MOMENT.
You know, the stories recovered addicts talk about with tears in their eyes? I’ve never experienced it. I like to think that Jesus brought me into this world, my hand in his, and we’ve been chillin’ ever since. My parents raised us in the Methodist church. I spent my youth growing up at NRUMC’s after-school program, choir practice, chimes practice, vacation bible schools, confirmation and volunteer opportunities. Even through college, when I wasn’t home to attend my church’s services, I prayed tirelessly for safety, health & for Jesus’ most highly equipped (first round draft picks) angels to watch over my loved ones.
For me, believing in God has always been easy. The blessings flowed endlessly. Everything has always had a way of working itself out – in His timing. Gehrig & I have followed the path to NFL pretty closely. Our unwritten “To-Do” list looked like this:
MULTIPLE MAC CHAMPIONSHIPS AT BG
GRADUATE & TRANSFER TO TOP FOOTBALL PROGRAM IN THE U.S.
GET TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
TRAIN AT THE MOST ELITE FACILITY IN ORLANDO, FL
EAT, SLEEP, BREATHE FOOTBALL & PREPARE FOR THE DRAFT
With his drive (& my planning skills *pats self on back*) we’ve been able to cross these tasks off the to-do list with ease. We were always able to excel through this process, crossing off my personal bucket list along the way, bulldogs in tow. There was just one task that went uncrossed, one we could never go back and redo: get drafted. It may sound dramatic to you, but that one weekend in April truly shook me and my faith.
For once, everything didn’t go according to plan.
I think that’s when I started to pull away from God, which was the start of an anxiety-induced downfall. As I hit on in my post about The NFL Draft, moments after it ended, the calls came in. Within three days G was already off to Kansas City, but it wasn’t what we hoped for. It wasn’t crying tears of joy, kissing in front of the TV as Goodell announced his name and prospective team, it wasn’t floods of congratulations and shopping sprees and picking out a house in the next city. It was just a dull “let’s wait and see.” As college kids, we’ve always depended on G’s scholarship money & my individual income (yeah so just remember when G is in the Pro-Football Hall of Fame that I was the bread winner for the first four years of our relationship!) But I’m talking peanuts, y’all. I worked at a tanning salon at school! Even after accepting a great job in Tuscaloosa, it was just enough for bills, groceries & dog food. When you’re entering the draft, it’s this exciting, terrifying thing because you’re just moments away from possibly being financially set, having everything you could ever dream of.
WE WERE ON THE BRINK OF HAVING EVERYTHING & NOTHING
And I hope you don’t take that the wrong way. I know that a loving family, good health & a roof over our heads is technically everything we could need, but I’m also not gonna lie and say I didn’t day dream about waking up to an all white Jeep Sahara with a big pink bow in the driveway of a gorgeous revamped Victorian home. At one point, just days after the draft ended, our younger bulldog Lou needed surgery on his stomach for a descended testicle (eeek!) It was already such a stressful weekend and with my baby on the mend, I looked awful. I wasn’t sleeping – so puffy eyes, no makeup, hair in a birds nest. We went to the vet to get his incision looked at and while we were in the waiting room, one of G’s drafted teammates was also waiting with his dog. And two girlfriends. Carefree, living life. With brand new Louis Vuitton bags & rose gold Cartier bracelets dangling from their wrists.
I STARTED TO SECOND GUESS GOD’S PLAN FOR US
Not because of the stuff. I know at the end of the day that’s just stuff. But why were we struggling when we followed the rules, worked just as hard and lived on the straight and narrow? When did we get to reap the benefits for all the hard work? Were we ever going to? Time moved forward, G moved to Kansas City for camp and I moved home to start a new job in my hometown. June and July were okay. I was so invested in training for my new job and packing for two vacations that I hadn’t put much thought into the what ifs. But our vacations flew by, and he left again for camp, and the anxiety returned instantly.
I COULDN’T EAT OR SLEEP OR FOCUS ON ANYTHING ANYMORE
There was too much going on. I was stressed with work (I went from being an editorial writer for a bridal magazine to the head of marketing for a software company..yikes) I had maybe 1 hour of communication with my fiancé every day. We had no idea where we’d be living if he made the team – or even worse, where we’d go if he didn’t make the team. We couldn’t decide if we’d be able to have a wedding in the next year or if it’d officially have to wait until 2019. Was I going to continue working for the software company or try to find something in KC? All these questions and paused plans whirred through my mind every single day. I just happened to be browsing Pinterest last week when I saw an inspirational quote, Phil 4:6 –
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
It gave me goosebumps. I stopped and wondered, when was the last time I even prayed? During this particular week, I was waking up at 2:00am on the dot every morning, drenched in sweat, heart racing, grasping for my phone to google my fiancé’s name in hopes that a reporter had posted a new blurb about practice. I would spend the next hour mindlessly browsing Buzzfeed and making mental notes of all the things we’d have to figure out if he made the team. I had lost a few pounds just from the week prior (of purchasing my wedding dress.) I was snapping on my parents and even G.
When you’re in this position, an incredible opportunity that so few people get to experience, everyone wants to know about it.
“How’s it going? How’s he doing at camp? Are you so excited?!”
You relay the enthusiasm.
“It’s great! He loves it. He’s doing awesome. We are so excited!”
I felt like I couldn’t open up about the nerves and unknown because nobody can offer much more than “Oh, it will all work out!” Sure I could vent to my mom (and I do 23/24 hours of the day, every day) and text my friends about it. I can even express my frustrations to G, but it won’t change anything. Nobody will change anything, besides God.
AT THE CENTER OF THIS STRESSFUL TIME, I REALIZED I LEFT GOD ON “READ.”
For the first time in my life – I was afraid of praying. I wasn’t open to asking for signs from Him. I was so afraid that If I asked God to keep Gehrig safe, healthy and to watch over him (as he competes for a spot on the final 53 man roster) and it didn’t work out, that I would be so angry, to the point of cutting off communication with Him for good. Not making the team, not having the life we’ve only dreamed of is still a very real possibility, but it’s not the end for us.
GEHRIG HAD HIS FIRST PRESEASON GAME THIS PAST WEEKEND
And he played. And he stayed healthy. And he did great.
And hours after the game ended, as I woke up at 2:00, tears streaming down my face, I folded my hands and thanked Him. I didn’t ask – I just thanked. And apologized.
I wondered if this was my come back to Jesus moment.
It’s so easy to close yourself off and drown in anxious thoughts, but that’s when you need God the most. I know for some of you, this might seem like the longest, most naive brag sesh – oh look at me a professional athlete’s fiancé who doesn’t have a Louis bag of her own wahhh! But this life, just like any other, comes with many real ups and downs. I feel like after stumbling in faith, I’m back on my feet, and just in time for the middle of the NFL preseason. I have so much faith in God and Gehrig, that the plan he has for us will see it’s way to resolution, no matter the outcome. My dad always says “He didn’t bring you this far to only bring you this far.” And I live by that. I hope anyone who feels anxious, like they’ve lost their way, knows that he’s always there – waiting for you to return.
This story is still “to be continued,” but I’m not losing sleep over it anymore.
Tonight, I’m just counting my blessings.