While I was growing up, I was expected to go to church, but it was more of a chore.  It was all about doing good things. When I actually felt like I needed God, I would get Jesus off the shelf, brush Him off and use Him as a genie.  I used God when I needed Him to shine for me, like an accessory in my life. And that’s not what God is, not at all.

Sports were a big part of my life, and really, that’s what my God was. Sports were what I turned to during hard times. Everything I did was for diving and to accomplish my dream as an Olympian.

Through the 2008 Olympics, it was all about me, my glory and money. But all of it was vanity. Really, the entire time I was thinking, “I need the medal, I need the medal.”  I thought the medal would get me rich and give me fame and pretty much give me the “American Dream,” or happiness. And that’s what I sought after the entire games. I ended up placing fifth and tenth [in 2008] and walked away absolutely devastated. I left the Olympic Games, which is an incredible experience, feeling unsatisfied.

Then once I got into college, I got into the party scene and seeking approval from my friends. I was on a path of total destruction. At the start of my sophomore year, I found myself flat on my face wondering what I was doing and what life was about. My teammates suggested I call my coach, and we ended up talking at his house on a Sunday night. He asked me about my “God story,” and then he and his wife shared the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ with me. I saw then how sinful I was and how much I needed God to redeem me. I devoted my life right there to Christ and asked for forgiveness. God began to move in my heart then and gave me a desire for what He wanted. My coach started to invest in me – not in what kind of diver I was inside of the pool, but in what kind of man I was outside of the pool.

Since then, I continue to see my need for Christ in my life. I go through so many trials, and I’m thankful that God continues to be faithful and show His grace through them. I can’t picture my life without God right now. It not about me, it’s not about what I accomplished and it’s not about what I do. I’m here for diving, and I’m here on this earth for God and to love others.

The whole journey going into the 2012 Olympic Games and my perspective was different [from my experience in 2008], and that was totally because of my relationship with Christ. Once I better understood my purpose, I learned to keep perspective. Diving is just a sport, it’s not who I am and not what defines me; my faith is what defines me. I don’t dive for myself; I dive to bring God glory.

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I have full contentment and faith that God is totally in control, and no matter how I write my own plan, He’s going to do what’s best for me to make me more like Christ. It’s so different competing now. I want Jesus to shine through me. No matter how I do in my sport, I know it’s perfect because of the promises and hope He has given me.

Photos courtesy USA Diving/John Beck Photography