God is a very big part of my life. I believe that what I am doing in my sport is what God made me to do. He has given me this talent, and I want to invest in it, confident that it is bringing glory to Him.
I think that when we are given talents by God we should invest them, like the parable where Jesus talks about giving one person 10 talents, another five talents, and another one. Each of them do different things with their talents. The ones who invest their talents would come back in a year’s time and give back to Jesus twice what they had been given — apart from the person who had one, who had been so scared of losing his talent that he buried it. He had wasted the talent and had not been able to grow with it. I think it is important that whatever talent we have been given, we should invest in as much as possible. By doing that, we bring glory to God and are doing what God made us to do.
My faith is an important part of the game. I try to pray before every game and give that game to God, to quietly affirm to Him that what I am doing is for Him and for His glory. I think if you ask the Holy Spirit to be with you, you have a strength that you can’t have without Him. That helps my performance, because it brings me into a good psychological place in my mind and ready for the challenge.
When I was younger, I prayed a lot that I would be healed of my visual impairment, that God would take this difficulty away from my life. I was about 13 and it was quite a big moment when I prayed that prayer. Obviously, I did not have my sight healed. If I had, everything in my life would have been totally different, and I don’t know what that would have done for me. There would have been no goalball; I would not have met my wife; I would not have had all the friends I have.
I certainly do not blame God for afflicting me with a disability. It has been a blessing for the most part in my life. I feel that by praying that prayer when I was younger, it brought me to a place in my mind where I could deal with the fact that I was disabled and move on and make something of my life rather than wondering how on earth I was going to cope.
—Michael Sharkey, Great Britain Goalball Paralympian
Michael Sharkey is a member of the Great Britain goalball team. He was a part of the team at the 2012 London Paralympics, his first such appearance. He was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that makes sight difficult in dark places and causes short-sightedness. He works as a physiotherapist for children with special needs.