by Charissa Veal
CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews) –Truett-McConnell College Alumnus, Hayle Swinson, shared her testimony in a TMC chapel service, November 20th. Swinson is a 2013 graduate of TMC and now serves as the Assistant Coach for the women’s soccer team and as an admissions representative for the Online and Master of Arts in Theology departments. Swinson shared that she would not be where she is today if it were not for God’s plan in bringing her to Truett-McConnell.
Soccer as a god
As a child, Swinson claimed to give her heart to Jesus Christ: “But I just said a prayer,” she said. “I thought that was all you had to do…So nothing about my life resembled anything about God. The rest of my childhood revolved around soccer.”
Swinson started playing soccer when she was four years old, and when she was eleven, she was picked to for a travel soccer team. “We traveled all around the state of Georgia and even some other states,” Swinson said, “so it encompassed my life. At that point, it became my idol.” Then, when she was fourteen years old, she was picked to be on an Olympic Development Team and continued on the track to fulfill her dream of playing soccer professionally.
Her plans took a direct hit, though, and she had to adjust her course. Near the end of her high school year, Swinson tore her achilles tendon, which kept her from being able to attend a Division l college after graduation. However, determined to realize her dream on the professional level, Swinson decided to play at a lower level school and then transfer to a Division l school, so she accepted the offer to play soccer at Truett-McConnell College.
During her freshman year at TMC, Swinson involved herself with the wrong crowd and began to compromise her convictions. On top of this, the soccer was not doing well and she was miserable: “I hated who I was. I hated who I was becoming. I hated everything about me,” Swinson said. So she decided to end her life.
Swinson went out to the soccer field, turned off her cell phone, and prepared to kill herself; but before she did, her phone rang. She answered and heard her father tell her he loved her. Although she was angry at God for allowing her dad to call and say those tender words, Swinson decided to keep living.
A change for good
That summer, Swinson went home and her parents made her go to church. After they returned home, she sat on the porch as the guilt of her first year of college played in her mind: “I could not run from it,” Swinson said. “And in that exact moment, I remembered a Bible verse that I had heard my freshman year, over and over…And God spoke so softly in that moment.” Swinson shared Romans 8:38: “Nothing can separate you from the love of God,” and shared how she decided to stop running and surrender her life to God. She made a commitment to change when she went back to school.
However, once back at school, Swinson returned to hanging out with the same friends. “What needed to happen was I needed to cut ties with my past. You see, I was trying to hold on to my past and hold to Jesus at the same time,” Swinson said. But one day in chapel, she broke down before God, saying, “I don’t want to live two separate lives. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.” That’s when the real change began. She started going to Bible studies, and then, during her junior year, Swinson started going to church regularly, got baptized, and started having a quiet time with God.
While in her fourth year of college, Swinson’s chance at playing professional soccer was endangered again. As she dove for a ball to stop it from entering the goal posts, Swinson was kicked in the head and suffered her eighth concussion; but the injury proved more severe that she thought. The tests showed that she had a fractured skull and her hopes of accepting the offer to play professional soccer overseas, which she had received just a week before her injury, crashed. But God had a plan.
Swinson remembers God asking her: “Hayle, if I take soccer away, will you still give Me the glory?” Swinson couldn’t say yes. A few days later, though, she fell to her knees and prayed, “Okay, God. Okay. If you take soccer away, I’ll still give you the glory. I’ll still follow You. Your ways are higher. Your plans are higher.” The next day, the doctor gave her the miraculous news that her skull was no longer fractured. Her dream of playing professional soccer was once again alive.
For the next two months, Swinson prayed that God would give her peace about accepting the offer. When God did not give it to her, she declined the offer, realizing that her reasons were selfish. She wanted to lift her own name up but finally came to the place where she wanted “to live in a way that promotes the name of Jesus, not the name of Hayle Swinson,” she said. A week later, the women’s soccer coach asked her to be the assistant coach the following year.
“God’s plan is better than ours,” Swinson said. “If I wouldn’t have gotten hurt, I would have gone to a Division l school, and I wouldn’t be the changed person that I am today. And God knew that was going to happen all along. He knew that in my life, and He knows that in your life.” Now, seven years later, she is able to share what God has done in her life to encourage others to surrender their lives to Him.
Charissa is a senior English major and a student writer for the college.Return to News Archive