Where I promise not to let youth sports take over my life

“That’s not a bumper sticker I would’ve guessed you’d ever have.” One of my besties was pointing out the new soccer club cling, stuck right next to my Great Lakes sticker, right next to the parking brake on the van.

Busted.

Soccer? Youth sports? Wasn’t I the one who contributed to a chapter about time, someone who talks and talks about sabbaths and being the boss of our own schedules? How did we let this happen, this endless slide into kids’ sports? And … did I mention that Dave’s coaching this team of our daughter’s? Suddenly there are games and practices on my otherwise heavily guarded weeknights and weekend afternoons.

You don’t know me at all. I know. (Ohp — he drops a bad word toward the end. Sor.)

Anyhow: soccer. Yes, this is an example of what’s happening as Year of Small Things kids grow up. What is raising kids if it’s not always changing, always adjusting?

Before I’m tarred and feathered by my own words — and please, yes, let’s quote something from the book I co-wrote:

“We don’t just rest because God rested—yes, that’s a key theological point and a vital glimpse into God’s own character and purpose. But … we also rest because we will not be slaves. Not to technology, not to soccer practice, not to our children …”

~Me, three years ago

—Before anyone starts doing the ostrich-neck-bend thing: “How does that … work with your little values?” Before we seem hypocrites, let me explain.

Has anything changed in us? Yes and no. Our Wednesday night dinners with our covenantal friends—that doesn’t move. And our church—that doesn’t get a backseat to soccer. Where we’ve allowed some flexibility in our calendar, we’ve also placed some non-negotiables. We’re still kinda weird.

Feeling convicted? Well. It IS good and healthy to take a hatchet to a calendar every so often to examine all the volunteer things and the fun things, the sports things, the work things—to ask “What can go? What needs to stay? When am I resting? Where are my boundaries flexible?”

But I don’t write this to convict you about overcrowded schedules. I write this to remind us that fun is holy, too.

Dave and our daughter are so geeked about soccer. Hearing them play, trash talk—it’s great. My friend Barb once told me that grace is hearing your kids laugh. “That’s all it is, that’s grace.” And they’re laughing and that’s a good, holy thing in a family.

And if it’s not working—if our schedule’s all whack and we have that crazed look in our eyes and it’s like water heating up under the frog in the pan and we don’t recognize we’re the frogs —

And if we’re hearing a lot of soothing answers like “Yeah, but it’s worth it,” or “Anything for the kids,” or “This is normal,” then we’ve got some people in our lives who’ll do the ostrich-neck and ask … “Is it?” That’s my prayer: that they’ll keep reeling us in, back to the important stuff when we feel untethered.

If you're feeling feelings about youth sports, you need this book


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