My Story by Christian Barber, Valor Baseball Class of 2016

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Our new series will highlight baseball and faith stories from the Valor Baseball Class of 2016. Through the months of April and May, the graduating Eagles will have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences on and off the field through Bottom of the Ninth.

As I made the Varsity baseball team my junior year, the game of baseball had more meaning than just arriving to the field and playing the game.  Baseball became a stepping stone to my future.  Nothing is handed to us and we don’t know what the future holds. I have found Jeremiah 29:11 to be my motto for the past two years of my baseball journey. It says,

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I came into my junior year of baseball with a group of very talented catchers to work with and compete against. One of them happened to be one of my close friends and a kid I have looked up to and competed with for three years. Being among such a talented group of catchers, I felt that I had to work extra hard to earn a starting spot. That was my goal for the year; however, as that mindset continued, I found my ability to be a leader and even my baseball skills deteriorate. It turned out that I was working for me and I was worried about my future in baseball.  My focus was on earning a starting role and earning a spot on a college baseball team. I played through my junior year with a chip on my shoulder and it was not until the summer before my senior year when I would look back at the previous season and realize how truly blessed I was to be a part of that Varsity baseball team.  This is where Jeremiah 29:11 truly began to be an integral part of my baseball journey and even my life journey.

I am one of only a few people who have the opportunity to play the greatest sport alongside a great group of guys they can call brothers. That summer, I read a passage about baseball that said “in the end, you will forget the wins and the losses, the cold games, the strikeouts, the home runs, but the one thing you will remember is the community with which you played that game.” I took this to heart as I entered my senior baseball season. I injured my throwing shoulder in a game in Florida in the summer before my senior year and that injury led to a bunch of physical therapy. At a baseball camp at Point Loma University in California, I ran a 60-yard dash that prompted the coach to ask if I ran track as well as played baseball.  I told the coach that I never had run track.  I had other people ask me to consider track and in early October, I thought that I should maybe give track a try in addition to playing baseball. In the beginning, my transition to a track athlete was one of the hardest changes I have ever made. It was a completely different community, a completely different sport, everything was different. It was hard to adapt because it goes at such a different pace. I ran the indoor season while also playing baseball when I could. When baseball tryouts came around, my shoulder kept me from throwing so the only thing I could do was hit. To most in my position, it would be a nerve wracking and possibly even dream crushing week. But I decided to follow Jeremiah 29:11 the entire week. I went into tryouts placing all my faith in God. I went to tryouts with the goal to enjoy the game as long as possible. My tryouts ended up going really well and I played the best I have ever played. I made the Varsity baseball team as well as the track team. I began to carry this Bible verse out to other areas in my life, and I have found a great deal of success and relief.

This spring, I’ve been blessed with a track scholarship to Belmont University. I would NEVER have ever predicted  that I would be running track let alone going to college for track! It truly is amazing how God works in our lives. At first, we are blind to His plan and we may not see the point, but, in the end, it all works out and there is always a reason behind His actions. I am blessed to support my brothers on the baseball field and continue to watch their hard work turn into success. After my last baseball game last week, a reporter captured the story of my final game and final at bat. I know I will walk away with the memory of a community of brothers in which I got to spend 4 years with creating the greatest memories possible.