I hope you’re doing well today, but it’s possible that you’re not.
Perhaps you’re facing something pretty tough right now. Maybe it’s grief. Disease. A painful setback. Or even a disability—physically or emotionally.
If so, this post is for you:
Taylor Davis was born with a disabled right arm, yet incredibly, she played D1 softball at Western Kentucky University. Last spring, she made first-team All-Conference USA, all while catching and throwing with the SAME arm.
I hope her story will encourage you and if it does, please share it.
2019 SAND DOLLAR CLASSIC, GULF SHORES, AL: “I started my first college softball game on the Western Kentucky bench, fidgeting. I was disappointed not to play and terrified that I might play. Finally, the coach put me in as a pinch hitter. My knees were wobbling. I could hardly breathe. Somehow, I got a hit. As I ran to first base, something deep inside clicked.
I could actually do this.
Let me explain: I was born with Erb’s palsy. I’ve never been able to raise my right arm very well or put my hand on my hip. My right arm is weak and thin. My shoulder is damaged from scoliosis. So when I play, I catch with my left hand and then take off my glove, so I can throw with my left hand.
Getting that first hit confirmed that God had given me enough ability (despite my disability) to compete at the D1 college level.
I wanted to show the world how well I could play. I wanted to prove myself to everyone.
I hit well (above .400) for a few games, but then I went into a hitting slump.
It was more than humbling.
Each time I struck out, I wanted to quit so badly.
The only thing I could do well that season was play left field, which was odd since I use only one arm.
One day my coach said, “Taylor! You’re better than this. Stop trying to prove you can play with a disability. Instead, use your game to glorify God. Keep working hard. Serve your teammates. And then trust God with the outcome.”
I was furious. I was working hard. Really hard. But later I realized what she was saying: Don’t make this about you.
My hitting slump continued off and on while my one-armed fielding steadily improved.
On good days and bad, I started praying this phrase: “More of you, less of me. Help me play my best for you.”
WKU vs. FL-ATLANTIC, MAY 2021: The crowd roared as I caught the ball and threw a runner out at home plate all the way from the back corner of left field. Then I got a hit and scored a run. Clearly, I was playing beyond my natural ability. It proved to me that God can use all things—athletic gifts as well as disabilities—for His good purpose.
In regionals, I went on to get a hit, steal 2nd base and score a run against Georgia. Later, I made a diving catch on national TV against Duke. The next year, I batted .397 and fielded at a 98% success rate.
In other words, God showed me how to win despite my disability. I believe He can show others how to win, too.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Don’t go it alone.
Back in first grade, being different than the other kids was awful. They’d say things like:
“What’s wrong with your arm?”
“Why can’t you can’t climb on the monkey bars?”
“You can’t play on our team.”
My parents taught me not to listen. They helped me find a sport I could play. My high school coach taught me how to catch and throw with one arm. My college coach taught me to play for greater purpose than myself. My mentors at FCA prayed for me, continually. If you are disabled in some way, either physically or emotionally, don’t go it alone. Find someone to walk beside you.
2. Be grateful for each win.
If I’d focused on my losses, it would’ve robbed me of victory. Instead, I learned to count my wins: I had the opportunity to play well at the D-1 level—very few people do. But more importantly, I have the privilege of being God’s child. Through Christ, I have victory both now and forever. I’m one of the most blessed people in the whole world! I thank God for every win. I thank Him for my parents and coaches and friends. I thank Him for my faith. I thank Him for using my disability for a greater purpose.
3. Seek inspiration.
Watching Jim Abbott, a one-handed major league baseball pitcher, gave my high school coaches an idea. Coach Palmer and Coach Stewart asked me to use my left arm to catch and throw one afternoon at practice. Since I use my left arm for everything, it was easier than I thought it would be. But juggling my glove took way too much time, so I practiced for hours. I’d watch TV and practice taking off my glove. I watched videos of Jim Abbott for inspiration. I found inspiration in Phil. 4:13. I found inspiration at how my parents juggled 3 kids and jobs and life and love. The more you seek inspiration, the more you will find.
4. Refuse to be bitter.
Sometimes, God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves. Yes, God allowed me to have a disability, but He helped me play, anyway. He taught me how to use my disability to honor Him—that’s a pretty awesome win! And it’s not just a win for me. My disabled to D1 story has given me so many opportunities to help others. Opportunities I would’ve never had otherwise. So, I refuse to be bitter. I’m just not going there. I can either hate my arm or love the arm God gave me. I choose love.
5. Find a mantra.
We got a new custom-made glove each year, so I had my mantra, “more of you—less of me,” (M.O.Y. – L.O.M.) printed on my glove. Defense was especially nerve-wracking for me, so I repeated my mantra before every pitch. It reminded me that each play was an opportunity to honor the Lord. To choose (with His help) not to make the game about me. Saying M.O.Y. – L.O.M. helped me accept whatever happened, no matter what was on the scoreboard.
6. Find a way to give back.
The blessings you give to others come back around to you. In serving you are well-served. Being an intern, a camp leader and a speaker for the Northeast Alabama FCA has been such a blessing. As I share my story and mentor young athletes, I feel fully alive. Back when I was a freshman, I didn’t want to be known for my disability. But now I realize this is who I am. Using my bad arm for a good purpose is totally a win. I love this quote: “Having needs humanizes us. Meeting needs dignifies us.”
7. Build on your strengths.
I’m a slap hitter. Slappers are left-handed hitters who hit short, well-placed hits just to get on base. It’s not as flashy as hitting homeruns, but slap hitting is my strength. So I’ve worked hard to improve my slap hitting. I’ve worked to improve my speed and to place the ball more skillfully. Building on your strengths leads to a win (like a .397 batting average ). This is true regarding spiritual victory, as well. Since the Lord is our strength (Ps. 28:7), we can build or grow our faith in Him, so that we can win the battle against things like discouragement and anxiety.
8. Push past your fear.
2 Tim 1:7 says, “You’ve not received a spirit of fear, but of love, power and self-control.” Even though I often walked to the plate feeling afraid, I learned to go anyway. To do it afraid. To step up on sheer faith. But then came public speaking. Yikes. I had to learn to push past my fear all over again. I often step up to the “speaking plate” quivering inside, but I go anyway because it’s not for me. I speak to serve God. I speak to serve kids. And when I do, no matter how badly I mess up, it’s a win.
9. Find purpose.
Being a disabled, D-1 player gave me many opportunities to share the gospel. I kept telling myself, “It’s not about fame or perfect stats. I’m here to glorify the Lord.” But I had no idea what this meant until the 2022 season, when God led a mini-revival on our team which resulted in seven baptisms. The Lord placed me there to help win souls. Having a sense of purpose helped me work even harder. It helped me become more giving toward my teammates. I hope they will remember me as the girl who loves Jesus and who loves them because that’s why God put me on the team.
10. Find strength from the Bible.
David & Goliath is my favorite Bible story. David had once fought a bear and a lion successfully, so when he faced Goliath, he ran at him. Now as I study for the MCAT, I sometimes look at my glove and smile, thanking God for past victories. I hope to run at medical school the way David ran at Goliath. And if God helps me win, I hope to become a pediatrician, so I can help kids.” TAYLOR DAVIS
Chances are you and I will face disability at some point, either physically, or emotionally, or circumstantially. Maybe you’re already facing something like that, right now. While it may feel awful, please hang on to this hope: God can use your pain for a good purpose. Your job is to believe He will.
Like Taylor, play the game of life as best as you can. Trust the Lord. Work hard. Do it for Him. Use your limitations to serve others. Choosing this perspective daily can help you win, too.