So, as I reviewed my last couple of posts- I realized that I was in one of those coveted places of communion with Him at the time. They never last long enough because I’m just too selfish and too stupid to let them.
For some reason I’ve yet to figure out, when my life is running like I know it’s supposed to, I tend to grab the reigns out of His hands and decide to drive my own wagon for a while-until of course, I run it off a cliff, again. Then… with head hanging and a heavy heart- I give them back to Him.
He’s been beyond patient with me about this, and I’m working on it- I really am.
But I’m not there yet.
So, for those of you who may have temporarily assigned me a paper halo- I’m about to give you reason to re-claim it.
By now, it’s clear that I’ve had a belly full of college football, but; I’m still bound to it in a weird sort of ”polygamist” way. If this reference conjures up an image of a Sister Wives episode for anybody, I’m sorry.
Several people whom I love, are not only associated with this sport, but their livelihoods and their futures are tied to it, too….and I mean good people. Decent people. God’s people.
A few of them are very dear and close friends of mine. Brothers and sisters who I’ve weathered some pretty rough life storms with. Storms that had zero to do with football.
God has granted them little favor on the field this year, while simultaneously showing a great fondness for them from a Kingdom perspective. Actually, He’s been doing that since the very day I first met them. Which is why I turn very “human” when I hear people assault their character. I know- that makes no sense at all, does it? Godly blessings on those you love should result in Godly behavior on their behalf. Not so in my case.
It’s been a sad season, and it’s Thanksgiving week. Which means it’s also rivalry week in my state. This is equivalent to a yearly civil war for the residents of Alabama. I’m not being dramatic. If you don’t care, ALOT, about who wins this football game- then, like my grandma used to say- ”You’re not from around here.” If you happen to have a family who has fans who hail from both schools, you have either long since opted out of your integrated Thanksgiving celebration, or you have collectively decided to place a strict ban on the topic altogether. Side note here to outsiders…most intergrated families occur, regrettably, through marriage. Otherwise, you are generally just born to one side or the other. Over time, you can be forgiven for marrying outside your tribe, at least for 51 out of the 52 weeks of the year. Turning you back on your own by converting to the other side however, is usually an unpardonable offense. Lordy mercy..now this sounds like an episode of Breaking Amish! Can you tell, I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and watching too many midnight re runs???
So, here we are. The other team is having a banner season, and our team has had our rear ends handed to us all year. To make matters worse-we’re playing at their place. On top of that- hubby is concerned about taking the new Ford pickup with an Auburn sticker on it into such a hostile environment-so he’s booked us on an alumni bus. Which creates a dilemma for Yours Truly. I dearly love the faithful few folks who take the bus into enemy territory every other year, but I loathe the bathroom options. To quote hubby, “I don’t bus well.”
I’m going though. I’m going.
I can promise you this- my friends that I’m going to support- would get on a bus for me, problematic though the bathroom situation might be.
We set our alarm for dark thirty, and make our way to the bus departure location.
I survive the trek, the boxed lunch, and the bathroom…well enough.
Game time approaches and it’s time to disembark from public transportation.
Hubby and I then proceed to head to the stadium. It’s like parting the red sea just to get there. We are routed through tons of crimson clad fans, gleefully shouting their jeering comments at us in the process. When we do get there, we have a Mount Everest type ascent ahead of us, which ultimately reveals that have the most hellacious seats- ever.
End zone, upper deck, cloud level. It’s 49 degrees and the wind is blowing.
OK, I get it- we’re the visitors- they can sit us wherever they want.
I should have felt the sinning coming on…because I’m also wondering why we don’t put them in these kinds of seats when they visit us.
Additionally, I make a mental note to mention the idea of changing their accommodations, to something more comparable, to one of the members of The Board of Trustees.
Who also happens to be a lifelong friend, and is riding on Cinderella’s carriage with us- by the way.
I’m not at all thinking the kind of thoughts a nice Christian woman should- that’s the bad news.
The good news is- that I’m bundled up like the Michelan Man, and the steep cardio climb in all my winter finery has caused me to sweat- and my thighs to burn- which results in me crossing my work out off the list for today
Hubby and I settle in to our seats. We’re soon joined by our son, who wore our schools’ colors…no EARNED our colors, as an offensive tackle for 5 years. He has on his letter jacket, and I think how proud I am of him. He is the portrait of perseverance and faithfulness- if ever I’ve seen one. I am reminded once again of why I’m sitting here battling altitude sickness. This is important to him, too.
Here is where the jerk in the upper deck comes in. I should probably use another adjective- but I’m committed to being real here. Besides, the phrase “undesirable individual” is far too kind for this guy.
He’s sitting directly behind me, and he’s trash talking our team, the staff, and anybody that’s ever even worn anything orange and blue. He’s spewing venom about my friends by attacking their morality…and I mean this fellow has a gutter mouth. He’s also purposely throwing his peanut shells into my back.
I make a conscious decision to ignore all this.
Because I’m a Christian.
Unfortunately, I’m about to forget that.
The game starts, and just a few plays in, one of our players is injured.
Mr. Potty Mouth….cheers. Yes, cheers, belting out at the top of his lungs,”Take that, boy !!!”
The fact that he is frequently and derogatorily, referring to our players using the term “boy”, is really beginning to chap my already freezing on the metal bleachers, behind.
Now, I KNOW what I should do, is pray for him…I know this.
But I don’t.
A few plays later, the referee makes a controversial call. My son stands up and yells (along with others wearing our colors) “Oh, come on, you gotta be kidding me?!?!?” He didn’t demean any player, or coach, or question anybody’s mother’s lineage, etc…
Then the jerk behind me, clearly aware of my son’s letter jacket, stands up and says, “Listen here BOY, you better just sit yo’ a$$ down, cause it’s gonna be a long day for you”.
This is a grown man.
OK, so maybe he’s not a man- but he’s grown anyway- probably 40 years old.
My son turns, and says, “Sir, I didn’t say a word to you.”
Mr. Congeniality then puffs his chest out, and retorts, “…and you better not either, ’cause this old man is looking for a reason to put you in your place.’
By now everybody within hearing distance is honed in on the situation.
The jerk continues, “Just lay one finger on me, and I’ll make you sorry.”
So…now- I’ve not only determined he’s jerk- but he’s an idiot, too.
He can’t be but 5″10″, and maybe 160 lbs…soaking wet.
Our son is an ex lineman, 6’6” 240, and works out twice a day.
Here’s where I lose my identity, as a Christ follower, completely.
Out the window.
Not because of what I’m doing, but because of what I’m thinking.
I’m absolutely dying for my son to unleash on this jerk…to clean his clock….I’m hoping for it. I want to release (vicariously, of course) every frustration I’ve had for the last 4 months. Spiritually. Politically. Athletically. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have do it for me than my strong son, who has shared these sentiments, many in a much more personal way than me. I’m thinking how much good it’d do both of us.
I’m sitting there positively fuming…and brainstroming…”Mister, you have no idea what a bad mistake you just made. We raised our son to never start a fight…but we also raised him to finish one….you’re about to be shut up for good…further more, I intend to enjoy every second of it”.
No, I did not have the opportunity to say this, thank heaven.
Enter the voice of reason. Hubby.
“Sir, I’m going to ask you to calm down.”
He does so from a standing position, which reveals yet another very fit, 6’6” frame.
I am guessing the tandem threat and stature of my two guys is enough to have him re-think his position…becasue he does in fact, calm down, sit down, and shut up.
To which I am inwardly responding, “Darnit!”
I told you you’d take the halo back.
The silence that follows gives God an opportunity to process the whole situation for me.
“Don’t you think that you were meant for so much more than this? Look around you…at all the passion, all the energy, all the money…that goes into all of this. To what end?”
“What if only half these people cared as much for the girls at Hope House, or the orphans of Ethiopia, as they do for the fleeting results of a scoreboard?”….
I never ceased to be amazed at his timing.
What I have been writing about occurred yesterday.
Today is Sunday, November 25, 2012, it is 1:30 p.m. and I am writing this in front of my fireplace, beside my sweet husband.
He just informed me that our football staff has been fired. Just now. This very minute…
I’m reflecting back on what I just wrote about success – football success, and Kingdom success..
I’m thinking about what this sport has done to so many…. to jerk in the upper deck, the people I love, and to me.
I’m thinking about my friends on the staff that I’ve been terribly worried about and what He’s used them to accomplish off the field….how they’ve worked in orphanages, how they cleaned up after the devastating tornadoes(in the rival teams’ very city- no less), how they have served the kids with cancer, how they orchestrated relief efforts for Haiti after the earthquake, how they’ve fostered children, how they’ve adopted children…I could go on, and on.
Undoubtedly, God knows that my friends, His children on the staff, are meant for so much more, too.
I should have seen the handwriting on the wall. It sure would have saved me a lot of grief.
Maybe He”ll use them to do His “so much more” through football somewhere else- maybe not.
Of this I can be sure, however; a National Championship in a secular sport was in no way their finest hour, as many have suggested.
I also know how very much I’ll miss them, I’m equally sure of that.
But only for a while…we’ll all be together again one day-
…and there won’t be a goal post in sight.
I’ll be forever thankful for how God allowed me to watch Him use my friends on this staff in other people’s lives, in my son’s life, and in my life… thankful for how they inspired us, for how they loved us, and for what they taught us.
In that vein- I can even be thankful for football, too.
But as of today, I’m throwing away my shaker, and I’m giving Him back the reigns.
It is finished.
And to that- all God’s children shout…
Oh… and He’s also given me the freedom to pray for the
jerk man in the upper deck. Sort of severance pay- I’d guess