USC - Upstate

Ian Farrell

I grew up in Florida, with my parents and older sister, Hilary. As a child, our family attended church every Sunday. My dad helped preach so I was often around the church “atmosphere”. I would say I knew about God but in no way did I truly know God on a personal relationship level. I always knew he was there from a young age but he was never more than “there”.  Life was good when I was young. I felt like anything I did was all me and that I was in complete control of anything that happened. My life was mine.

I developed a strong passion for baseball when I was 9 or so. I began playing and it soon started to consume my life. I found myself at weekend doubleheaders and tournaments across the country. I was so proud of myself and I knew it was something I wanted to do in high school and beyond. I had it all. A great family, friends, I was “cool” in the eyes of my peers and I was socially normal in a lot of ways.

I had so many things going for me yet I still felt this sense of emptiness.

To make matters worse, our family started going through sickness and financial problems. My dad became very sick and lost his job. With only one working parent, money soon started to dwindle faster than I ever imagined. Baseball became an outlet for me. It served as an escape from reality. At first it was great but it soon became too much to handle. Throughout travel ball and early into high school, (I never admitted it to others) I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. I always found my happiness and self worth through success in whatever I was doing.

My freshman year of high school was at Matanzas in Palm Coast, FL. I had a lot riding on me. I was billed as the new “star” to play there. I worked hard and eventually started my entire freshman year. Life became somewhat of a stand still though. My dad was still battling health problems and high school wasn’t what I expected. I was doing well even though I constantly dealt with a lot of pressure from teammates to perform.  I wasn’t a popular kid my freshman year. I thought being a good baseball player would translate into being the “cool kid” on campus but it was the complete opposite. I found myself lonely. I didn’t have any true friends and I felt sad a lot. I’ve always been good at hiding things so this was no different. I masked it with a smile. That empty feeling was more present than ever.

The summer after my freshman year, life changed dramatically. Our coach at Matanzas left and I ended up leaving as well. Through persistence from a few people, I reluctantly decided to transfer to Father Lopez in Daytona Beach. It was a Catholic school and I wasn’t Catholic. A 5-minute drive to Matanzas turned into a 40-minute drive to Lopez. Life threw me a complete 180 and I had no clue what to expect. Being in a school where God was a main factor, I started to think about God more. It wasn’t to the point where he became a main priority… yet. I still felt that emptiness and looked for earthly desires to fill it. I thought a relationship would fill that hole. It didn’t come close; it brought me farther apart. Relationships will NEVER feel that void you’re heart needs, I promise. It might fill it temporary but it’ll never fill it eternally.

2012 came. My family has always been the best. I’ll never doubt that. They’ve supported me in everything I’ve done since birth. We were going through the toughest times I could have imagined. Money was tight and life wasn’t looking to bright. Baseball was surprisingly still good even though I had a million emotions going through my head at every second of the day. I was starting to develop some interest from colleges to play baseball. I got excited and it pushed me to work that much harder. You know what though? I still felt empty. Not empty as in having nothing. I had a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. Empty as in I had a lot but I was still missing something inside.

I wasn’t just empty; I hit the rock at the bottom. I can’t describe the feeling of hitting rock bottom. It’s a feeling where it seems like nothing can go right and everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. My mom was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2012. Life wasn’t good. I was sad and worried 24/7 about what would happen.  Mind you, my dad was still going through plenty of health problems of his own. I played my entire junior year with a broken bone in my ankle. College letters started decreasing.

I felt completely lost until one night I was on my knees crying out to God. I had completely given up doing things on my own and placed everything I had in His hands. I cried out to Him and couldn’t stop saying sorry for refusing Him so many times before in life. The moment I truly accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior, my life changed. Everything about my life that was so empty suddenly became full. Life wasn’t about me or what I was capable of doing. It was ALL about Jesus and what HE was capable of doing.

By no means did it solve every problem that I was going through but it lessened the burden. 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”. I gave my life to God. Everything about me was because of Him. I started trusting fully in Him and every one of His promises. I signed to play baseball at USC-Upstate in November of 2012. My mom was healed of cancer and my dad is doing much better with his health. God is the reason for every one of those. I casted my problems to Him and he solved them. Life is too much to deal with everything on your own.

Before I truly found Jesus, I was a fake Christian. I said I was a Christian but I was living for this world and the desires in it. My walk in faith hasn’t always been easy but it’s been the most rewarding choice I ever made. I look back on every trial and tribulation I went through to find Christ and it makes me think of what Paul says in Romans 5:3-4. It states, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” I look back on those rough days and smile. God had me hit rock bottom to make sure I knew that HE was the rock at the bottom! Life has meaning and purpose with Christ as the center of it. In the end, no matter what my performance, in day-to-day life or baseball, Jesus is the most important thing to me.

I used to believe that good works and being a good person in the eyes of society was what got me into Heaven. I was brutally wrong. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” I lived with the thinking that doing well would get me into Heaven when it’s really the complete opposite. I was saved by the endless grace of God, not by anything that I could do. I’m saved because of faith and God’s grace alone. No works or good deeds.

I hope that by reading this you see firsthand how God turned a broken individual into a disciple of His. I still sin and I mess up but you know what? An amazing God whose love has no limit loves me. I don’t claim to be a perfect Christian but I’m in need of a savior and Jesus is mine.

I can’t tell you how to live your life but the greatest advice I can give you is to find Jesus Christ in yours. He provides the fullness your heart craves and the love your soul yearns for. I’m a firsthand account of how God can change someone 100% for the better. I am a living testimony to that fact, and thank God for it. He loves you more than you’ll ever imagine. Find His love and you’ll never want to let it go.

God Bless,

Ian Farrell