Soccer Practice Isn't In the Bible

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pexels-photo-102448Grass Sport Football Soccer (c) 2016 Pexels

My mom raised me to be a winner.

By the age of 15, I was well on my way to building an impressive resume with a host of modern accomplishments: violinist, athlete (basketball, cross country, track, and softball), French club, animal club, part-time job, and straight As.

I was funny. Tall. Sarcastic. Confirmed in the Catholic Church. And I had absolutely no personal relationship with Jesus or the God who made me.

I didn’t know it then. At the time, I was “achieving” in all the ways that mattered. I got a lot of good feedback from teachers, friends, and parents that I was on the right track, and that happiness was surely going to be mine as a result of my well-rounded personal resume.

And you know what? It wasn’t.

I got into a great school. I started the career I wanted. I met a great guy. And I was still on the path to utter destruction because I’d never stopped to incorporate God, Jesus, or faith in my life.

So, here’s a message I wish my parents had gotten somewhere in my early teens:

Soccer practice isn’t in the Bible. 

“Frozen” isn’t in the Bible. 

Band practice isn’t in the Bible. 

And if you choose to let your kids participate in these activities without the foundation of a spiritual life, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of distraction, pain, and false idols. (OR if, you know, you let pop culture be their culture.)

False idols aren’t just a secular problem. When we’re not careful — very, very careful — they can infiltrate even the most devout family.

What can we do about it? Admittedly, I don’t have children (yet). But maybe that means I can be of service to overwhelmed, tired, and concerned parents who might not have the energy to care about this kind of thing as much as I do (and support them with my actions, too, which I’m not very good about)? Here’s what I’d recommend:

Until you feel totally at peace with how your family members interact among each other and with the outside world.

Until you see evidence of caring, empathy, and respect in every child at every age.

Until you feel like you have a relationship with each of your children and your children have a relationship with God.

… say “No” to any extracurricular activities or entertainments that drain your time, energy, and finances. 

Does this mean movies are no good and kids shouldn’t learn how to play sports? Absolutely and definitely not. But it does mean that twice-per-week travel league and watching Frozen every morning in Frozen pajamas and a Frozen-themed sheet set have got to go.

You and your child’s siblings should be the ones teaching your child sports. Your growing family should make its own entertainment and build stories together. And until you know that you and God have influence on your children, you and God should be the only influence on your children.

Protect your children from building a life and culture away from God. You’re the only one who can.

Copyright 2016 Sarah Greesonbach

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About Author

Sarah Greesonbach is a writer living in Virginia and a "recovering Catholic" turned Theology of the Body enthusiast (is that a thing yet?). After growing up pretty darn secular, she writes about rebuilding a Catholic view of sexuality, marriage, and pregnancy at Life [Comma] Etc.

3 Comments

  1. I agree with your basic premise – that our priority should be bringing our children into relationship with God, but I don’t see it as the exclusion of the world we live in, necessarily. I don’t think I will ever totally feel at peace with how my family interacts with each other or the world, mostly because we’re all still sinners. I think acknowledging the role of the examination of conscience and reconciliation bears much fruit in our lives. There are more benefits to extra curricular activities for most people than just getting our kids into something to put on a resume. God exists in those places too. 🙂

  2. I think that the key to this is having the foundation of a spiritual family life. My children (especially my youngest) have had Sunday rehearsals for shows (and Sunday matinee performances). I participate in a musical ensemble for an Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols and we rehearse on Sundays. But we make sure that we get everyone to Mass. That does not get to be sacrificed on the altar of sports, theatre or whatever fun thing someone is doing. It might mean we have to fiddle with the schedule to make sure everyone gets to Mass, but the key is making it happen.
    It does, eventually, rub off on the kids. I remember picking my youngest up at soccer practice one evening, and hearing the coach tell all the kids that a rained-out game would be rescheduled for that coming Sunday (they did not ordinarily play or practice on Sundays). I was already trying to work out in my head how we’d make this happen when I saw my son’s hand go up in the air: “Coach, I have church on Sunday.” Immediately, several other boys chimed in to say the same. The game was rescheduled–again. And not on a Sunday morning.
    It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. It’s not always easy to get my teenager out of bed and ready for church in nice clothes (never mind a nice attitude).
    My children’s participation in sports, theatre and Scouts has been good for them. They have used and developed the talents and abilities God gave them. They have helped others. They have built skills that they’ve used in other areas of their lives. We made sure that the adults involved in these activities were good people with the kids’ best interests at heart. We’ve encouraged our kids to foster friendships with other kids who were positive influences.
    The Catholic high school my kids have attended (only the youngest is there now) has a special Mass on the day of the Sunday matinee. All the students and adults involved in the show attend Mass together. I love how they have built in the opportunity for the students to attend Mass, demonstrating that this is a priority.

  3. I agree. I do believe many parents let extra curricular activities take over their schedules. They mean well but in the end, what matters in not the number of goals, home-runs or recitals, but to walk the path to heaven. And although the activities and a solid spiritual life are not incompatible per se, when our children are younger, I think most definitely the focus should be the latter.

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