Friday, January 6, 2012

playing a bigger game...


I love the game of football. I owe that to my dad. My dad is a man of very few words. Growing up I never heard him say much. But, when he was watching football he had a voice. A loud one. I saw passion and heart in my father during football games. Thus, grew my love for football.

When I was around 5 or 6 years old, my dad would wake me up early on a crisp fall Saturday morning, dress me in an orange and white cheerleaders outfit, load me into the car that had been appropriately decorated with tiger paw magnets and orange and white flags that hung in the windows, the night before. It would still be dark outside, we would grab a quick breakfast and travel Interstate 85 into Tiger Town. I always knew that we were getting close when I saw the huge tiger paws painted on the roads. I thought that was the coolest thing. Evidently, so did my grandparents, because, I also remember that they got in trouble one year for painting huge tiger paws down their neighborhood street. I guess its okay to have orange paws on the roads in tiger town, but not on a tree lined street in Lyman. Never-the-less, taking a trip to Clemson SC in the fall, climbing the stadium stairs that gives you a beautiful view of the mountains and Tilman Hall, chanting C-L-E-M-S-O-N with a fist roll and pause before the N, swimming in a sea of orange and white always gives me a sense of nostalgia.

So, Clemson had a great season this year, walking away with 10 wins, an ACC championship, and a trip to the Orange Bowl this past week. Which, by the way, was a major FAIL!!! What I liked best about Clemson football 2011/12 was watching their head coach Dabo Swinney. What a young, vibrant, passionate coach, who is investing in his players and teaching them more than how to play football. I've noticed that Coach Swinney is playing a bigger game. He never lets an opportunity go by that he does not testify to the goodness of God. He shows that he is a man of God's Word and voices it often. He believes in the game he's playing, and it runs deeper than pass plays and total yardage.

Now, here is the lesson I got from the brutal, devastating loss at the Orange Bowl. 70-33 was the final score, and it was NOT in Clemson's favor. They didn't just loose, they were stomped, embarrassingly. They were bowled over. hammered. kicked in the face. left for dead.

In a press conference after the game a question was asked of Coach Swinney. "Coach, what do you say to your players in the locker room after a game like that?" Coach Swinney's response was something like, you know, it is what it is, it was devastating. You know, the typical. But, this is the statement that rung out to me. He said, "I told them that I love them." and I thought when I heard that, "you know that's a lot like God."

Sometimes, I play with ALL heart and passion. I grab the ball and I run with it. I listen and do exactly what I'm suppose to. I'm efficient and effective at making the score. I live with total victory. And, God tells me that He loves me.

But often, I get sacked back behind the line. I drop the ball. I turn things over to the wrong people. I run the wrong way. I can't seem to stop the worry, fear, lies, and temptations that are rushing at me. I fall far too short of the end zone. And I don't make the goal. Sometimes, I don't just fail, but I fail miserably. Just like Clemson in the Orange Bowl I get stomped embarrassingly. And, God tells me that He loves me. Do you know what is really interesting? It's during my worst failures that I hear His "I LOVE YOU" more clearly. more distinct. louder. It's what causes me to stand back up. get back in the game. play harder. stronger. better.

In the fall I will climb the steps of death valley again. I will gaze out over the mountains, and turn my head towards that hill, I will cheer loudly (just like my dad), and watch Dabo and his tigers play a bigger game than just football. I will remember that when someone asks God, "What do you tell her after a failure like that?" He will always say, "I tell her that I Love Her."

have you ever felt like you failed at something? Did you hear God say, "I Love You" If you did how did it change you?

1 comment:

NickiS ツ said...

I think I was born without the love for football gene. But I love how you equated passion for God with football imagery...maybe I love football afterall! Great post, happy to be your newest follower. Blessings, Nicki