My first racquet was labeled a “Chris Evert.” It’s not difficult for me to remember that because when I first started learning to play tennis she became my role model.
I recall watching every televised match I could find in which she was telecast…I really admired her.
In this moment, I just an an epiphany. In this moment I have been humbled to seek God’s Forgiveness.
I was just given a very vivid memory.
My Dad took me to see an exhibition match at the Avon Championships of Seattle. I think this was around 1981. We went to watch Chris compete and after her match was over we sped down from the audience seating to the Seattle Center’s hallways. We were just two among throngs of “fans” waiting to catch a close up glimpse.
Someone next to me was holding some paper. I asked what that was for? They replied “Autograph.” I’d never though of getting an autograph, it had never occurred to me. I don’t remember if I asked or she offered first but I ended up with a blank piece of pink paper.
Next thing we knew, Chris appeared among the “throngs” of people.
Here I was a child tennis prodigy staring into the face of a sports celebrity. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I recall very little about this “autograph” moment. I took one look at Chris and my mind went blank.
My Dad had been standing nearby observing the whole thing and described it in detail. Somehow, even among the large group of admirers vying for her attention I ended up almost right in front of her. My eyes and mind were so fixated on her though that it was like I got pulled int a bizarre trance. I held up my slip of paper to her – but with no pen.
Dad said she looked at me and could see her mouth the words “do you have a pen?” but laughed softly when she realized I had wouldn’t be able to respond because I had become locked in a stunned gaze (mild shock). This was the moment when Dad snapped the picture of me about two feet from her.
Chris Evert was my mom’s favorite (tennis) athlete to watch on television. She asked that I always strive to maintain an on court persona and demeanor similar to Chris: Calm, focused and graceful.
What I completely missed as an innocent youth was that while Chris was a wonderful role model not to lose sight of truth.
The process of this person going from being my “role model” to being an “idol” didn’t happen overnight because when I started learning how to play tennis I was only three. My first competition occurred when I was six.
It’s taken me a long, long time to see that
God created Chris.
God created Me.
We are both special and unique. Just like you gentle reader, none of us can be replaced.
And maybe in hindsight my first lesson in this testimony writing experience starts here. That I have, in the past created idols in my heart or mind. God says we are not to i-d-o-l-i-z-e anyone or anything but Him, right? (Exodus 20:3)
In closing, I failed to recognize that by idolizing this sports figure (even with the most innocent of intentions) I was losing sight of who I was made to be. Rather than understand what I could bring to the game and world of tennis, I got “sucked” into a false reality of seeking fame, fortune and pride…
I won’t bother crying over spilled milk but The Father’s intent is for me to acknowledge the error and ask for forgiveness regarding His 2nd Commandment: You shall make no idols
(it doesn’t matter if it’s a tangible item or something we hold as value.)
Father, forgive me…I repent.