I know almost nothing about football. I know there is a ball and pads on the players' shoulders, that there are goal posts and men in black and white stripes that throw yellow cloths down on the ground. At least that is all I knew until about a month ago, and then all of that changed. And it changed not because I really began to care about football, but because I already care about a 16 year old boy who decided that he wanted to become one of those padded up players on the field. We have never been a sports family, but this opportunity came up that fit our lives and my boy felt he was ready, so now I am learning how to wash extremely stinky uniforms that make me gag when I walk past the laundry room. (Vinegar...soak in vinegar first before washing... it is the only thing I have found that works!)
So as soon as I realized my child would be on the football field, playing one of these confusing positions, I downloaded Football for Dummies, and tried to figure it out. Who knew that the position of defensive end could be so complex?! To me it just looked like a bunch of men with big heads running around looking for someone to crush underneath them, but oh, no... there are all sorts of plays and assignments and plans, and there is, apparently, some kind of method to all that madness out there, and it is the topic of all kind of conversation in my house now. Plays with weird names, and numbers, and debate about how to tackle well without doing it against the rules- all of this was way out of my comfort zone. But now I am educating myself and I'm determined to be able to have at least a partially intelligent conversation about what is going on in my son's football world.
I also want the games I am watching him play to make sense to me. I don't want to be an ignorant loud voice on the sidelines just screaming for number 64 to "Get 'em". I want to be able to talk about the game when it is over, to hear his experience of playing and to be able to relate as much as a 41 year old mama who has never played sports possibly can. It's something he loves, he is trying to be good at, and I can see that it is teaching him about hard work and character. He is invested in it and therefore, I am going to be as well.
Things change when you have a kid on the team.
I have watched football before of course. I mean, I live in the South, for goodness sakes. I get that it is a big deal. Mostly I get that it is fabulous background noise on Sunday afternoons in the fall when I want to take a nap at my mom's house. But I have been to games, and the only way I could keep myself interested is to know something about the players on the field. It is the personal element that engages me. Not just in football, but in any sport. A few years ago, my husband took me to a NASCAR race. I didn't really care about going, until I found out that he had borrowed these fabulous head phone things that let you listen to the drivers talking with the people who were on the sidelines. It was fascinating! They went back and forth about who was doing what, how to best handle situations, when to come in for tires or gas...I actually never even opened the book that I brought! Getting a glimpse into the people who were out there in those cars screaming around the track made me care about the race itself.
Things change when you begin to understand who is out there running the race.
I have been a church goer all my life. Faith is a matter of great importance to me, and I love the people that God has put in my life to walk it out with me in a real life, practical way, beyond just some religious ideas and concepts. I care about them, and their lives, and I need them to help me stay on track and to encourage me, as well as tell me when they see me straying from living out the faith that I say I hold. At the same time, I am cheering for them. I have friends who have given up everything so their autistic son can have the kind of therapy he need, friends who have grown from complaining everytime someone asked them to help with children's ministry to now loving teaching a class, friends who have carried out their vows with alcoholic husbands during the worst of times, friends who have learned that God sets the solitary in families and have chosen to connect with others instead of living in regret about how they parented before they knew Jesus. They are in the game. They are padded up, running plays everyday, falling down, scoring sometimes, and sometimes committing fouls. There are times I look at what they are doing and I feel as ignorant about it as when I watch a football game... I can't figure out exactly where the ball is or who is supposed to be going after it. But because I love them, I am a loud voice on the sidelines...I am saying "Go, go, go!"
I had a lady tell me last night that I might want to consider getting some valium or possibly some essential oils for stress relief before the next game. She was kidding...I think... but what she was saying was that I was really affected by what was going on on the football field. And I can promise you it wasn't because I love football, it was because I absolutely adore my son, and he happened to be on the field. He told me last night, "Mama, I could hear you out there. Thank you." I can promise you, next week, I will be just as enthusiastic and just as loud, because it made a difference to him.
All of my friends out there, who are suiting up today, ready to go at it again, to face the things you need to face, to get done the things you have to get done, who are getting on the line and looking up to size up your opponent- hear me cheering for you. Hear my voice, right now, saying, you can win this. You can follow the play, or mess it all up, you can fall down, or make it to the goal line this time, but I am cheering you on. Yelling your name, yelling your number, letting you know I see you out there and you will win. If the score doen't reflect it yet, it's ok. What is going on in the game you are playing today matters to me, because you are on the field, and I care about you.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are not out here alone. Most of us really are doing our best, most of us really are giving it our all, and every single one of us is fighting some kind of battle. I don't have to understand yours to give you some grace, and some kindness, and few really loud cheers to help you keep going. I have been given the same things from you, and I will most certainly need them again.
Things change, don't they, when we have friends in the fight...when we love someone on the field...when we start to see past the uniforms to the people who are wearing them. And I am so glad that they do.
Now I have to go soak a uniform in some vinegar. Let's get ready for some football!!!
I am a wife and homeschooling mom who absolutely loves her job! I love to read good books, enjoy art, and sit on my porch with family, friends and any passersby to talk about them and what a good, good Father we all have!