Uncovering Hidden gods

The Ten Commandments. Almost everyone has heard of them, and the more popular ones are quoted often: Thou Shall Not Kill. Thou Shall Not Steal. Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery.

Most of us Believers probably just skim over the 1st Commandment, as we typically don’t have golden statues or other deities that we worship or pray to. 

 A few weeks back, God revealed to me that I had indeed been breaking this all-important Commandment. But how was I breaking it? I only pray to and serve God, read my Bible, attend church, and even faithfully write this blog to encourage other Believers. 

But the definition of a god isn’t just some deity you worship or believe in. It’s also defined as “something of supreme importance”.

I thought back to the importance that I had given Sports. Yes, we still made every possible effort to attend church on Sundays, especially since we had 3 services to choose from. But youth group (where the kids REALLY connect real life to God), special events or occasions, and relaxing family vacations and outings all took a lower priority if there was a sporting event or practice scheduled.

Family Dinner? Eating in the car on the way to practice.

Family or Personal Devotions? Too late, girls need to get in bed for school, or just too exhausted. 

Extended Family Events? Sorry, we’ll have to miss – the girls have a tournament/game/meet etc. that day.

My extreme behavior was being driven by a concept I read in a book a few years back. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell proposed the 10,000 Hour Rule – that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to become world-class in any field. I took that supposition and ran with it – determined that I was going to support them getting as many hours of practice that they needed – in order to get to the level of success that I thought they were capable of. Imagine my surprise to recently have discovered a number of studies that have debunked this concept.

I remember watching a movie about Simone Biles and learning about all that she had to give up in her teenage years to become an elite gymnast. That movie stayed with me, as I often wondered if she had any regrets with giving up that time and those memories of a childhood, that could never be recaptured.

I realized that time was quickly passing by, and my oldest would be off to college in 3 short years. Would we spend those remaining years totally immersed in her sports to give her the best opportunity for a sports’ scholarship, and elite competing beyond that? Did it matter what price our family would have to pay? How would this impact our personal and spiritual lives? What opportunities were we missing to serve the Kingdom, instead of serving our own aspirations?

Years that could never be recovered – was it worth reaching the pinnacle of their chosen sport? Or was actually living and enjoying family and friends, important milestones, and life events more important?

And where was God in all of this? Didn’t he create my girls for a purpose? What if my actions were in conflict with His purpose for them? Or what if He did have a grand plan in their field of sports, but it would happen His way, and not my way? Wasn’t His favor on their lives enough to take them wherever they needed to go? Couldn’t I just trust Him to specifically order their path and future?

So after much meditation and prayer, I made the difficult decision of taking a break from competitive sports to allow our family to rebalance and refocus. After the current volleyball season ends, it will be the first time since 2011 that the girls will not run track. This will be a complete lifestyle shift, as track has been a major part of our lives every year from May through August, culminating with the Junior Olympics.

This hiatus will also allow Kennedi to continue to fully heal, recover, and rehab from her injury, while Kassadi continues to work through the growing pains that are bothering her body. I’m excited to plan all kinds of memorable activities with our family, including an actual vacation that isn’t tied into a major sporting event. Who would have thought it?

I’m determined not to diminish the importance of my family, our relationships, and our lifelong memories and experiences in the sole pursuit of accolades, praise, and worldly adoration. After this summer, we will pursue a balance in all areas of our family life, and I’m trusting the Lord to help us find it.


Is there anything taking a priority in your life over God? Is it more important than you attending church regularly? Reading your Bible? Doing special service for God?

Take a thorough evaluation of your life – where does money fit on your priority list? What kind of priority do(es) your relationship(s) have? Your Career? Is there anything getting in the way of making the Lord the most important thing in your life?

Feel free to share your response in the comments section…



Published by Tonya May Avent

Child of God. Wife of 20 years to basketball fanatic and coach. Mom to teenage daughters and amazing athletes. Tonya is an award-winning author whose writing has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts magazine. Her first book, Using God’s Playbook for the Game of Life: 52 Scriptures Your Young Athlete Should Know Before Sending Them Off Into the World was released in October 2022.

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