Tim realized his competitive sportsman identity was a fragile house of cards
In the midst of his parents' ugly divorce, Tim Pitcher found his value on the running track but his self-esteem crumbled when he stopped winning races.
"As with most divorces, I was put between my parents and unintentionally used as a pawn," Tim recalls sadly.
He found it hard to connect with others but nevertheless used sports and church youth groups as outlets to avoid tense situations at home.
When he discovered his natural gift for running he quickly built his identity around his athletic performance.
For a while he enjoyed star status as one of the school's record holders but soon found he was no longer the best when he started studying at the University of Tennessee.
"My identity and self-worth was built on a house of cards that started to tumble in on themselves," the athlete says.
On the other hand, university also allowed Tim to find out where his true value came from through an organization called Athletes in Action.
Through one of the organization's staff members Tim says he was shocked to realize that his "good moral life was not enough" to earn him a place in heaven one day.
Although he had believed in God, attended church, read the Bible and understood Christian principles up until this point, he says "I was being fooled into thinking that just the knowledge was enough".
At a Sunday night service at his local church, Tim began to understand that there was a difference between knowing about God and knowing him personally.
"I realized that it was not enough just to know the facts about the Bible because even the demons believe and they will not be saved. I knew the information in my head needed to travel down to my heart," he explains.
He wanted to live the spiritually abundant life described in John chapter 10 verse 10: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
"I wanted to be in a personal relationship with God where I did not need to depend upon my performance to receive my worth and value," he adds. "God would love me unconditionally if I chose to accept his free gift of forgiveness and love."
Sitting in the church pew, Tim remembers finally accepting this newfound truth and ultimately giving up control of his life to God.
"I began the transformation process from basing my value on what my coaches and teammates thought about me, to what the Bible said was true about me," Tim describes.
"The process took some time for me to understand and apply but as I studied the Bible and prayed, I was able to learn how much I'm really loved."
Surrounding himself with other Christian athletes also helped Tim grow in his faith and now he does the same for others, through being actively involved in Athletes in Action since 1994.
"I've tried to live my life so that there would be evidence to those who are observing my life that I am a child of God," he says, because he knows that is where his true self-worth and identity lies.
His message to all is simple: "It's not enough just to know about God, Jesus and the Bible. You must personally ask God to forgive you of your sins and trust Him with your life. As you do this, you will begin to see big changes in your life." •