When Football Makes You Cry

Football season is officially over and I am not one bit sad about it.  Monday nights just got a heck of a lot more entertaining now that Monday Night Football has been replaced by Monday Night Bachelor.  (Go, Lauren B!)

Despite my apathy towards football, there was one game this season that I’ll probably never forget.  Actually, just one play from one game.

You’ll probably never guess the game or the play so I’ll just show it to you.  It starts at 1:35.

Did you watch it?  If you didn’t, go back and watch it.  It’s only a minute and you need to see this “Holy mackerel, what a play!” moment.

Just to be clear, I don’t care about UCLA or ASU football.  Couldn’t care less who won the game.  But this play happened four months ago, and I can still see myself sitting on the couch next to Paul watching it for the first time.  Crying big fat tears.

Paul heard me sniffle, looked over at the tears streaming down my cheeks and and laughed.  Because really- who cries during a football game that you care nothing about?

But I tend to think in metaphors.

So while everyone else saw Kalen Ballage scoring a remarkable touchdown, I saw myself.  I know it seems ridiculous.  I mean, at first glance, Kalen and I don’t seem to share much in common other than our pierced ears and wrinkly foreheads:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.31.18 AM

But God was teaching me a very important lesson through Kalen’s touchdown.

The announcer said, “You get the sense that all the frustration from a disappointing opening four weeks of the season, was taken out on that one run…”

When I watched this game, I was sitting on our couch in the middle of my own very disappointing season.  I was sad and frustrated with life and angry with God. So very angry with Him.

But I wasn’t alone in my sadness.  And God used this touchdown to remind me that I wasn’t alone.

Kalen Ballage could not have scored this touchdown on his own.  Left to his own devices, UCLA would have pummeled him easily.  He was surrounded by gold helmets.  Three of the enemy were trying to pull him down and he was stuck running backwards.  Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.42.19 AM

He should have been tackled.

At that point in the year, I too felt surrounded by the enemy- His lies were so loud and my sadness was so painful.

I should have been tackled.

But Kalen wasn’t just surrounded by his enemies.  His friends were there too.  His friends came from every side and PUSHED him towards his goal:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.27.57 AM

I saw those giants surrounding Kalen, shoving him towards the end zone, and instantly thought of these girls:

They are not quite as beefy, but during my sadness, they refused to let the enemy have the last word. They surrounded me with words of comfort and encouragement and prayer.   They talked me through the pain and pushed me towards God right when I was feeling betrayed by Him.

Plus, they can be pretty tough when they need to be:


And when Kalen was struggling to stay on his feet, when he was about to stumble just short of his goal, one friend grabbed him in a bear hug of an embrace, kept him upright, and literally pulled him into the end zone.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.29.41 AM

I watched this play and didn’t see Kody Kohl helping his friend score a touchdown.

No, I saw my sister grabbing me around the waist and refusing to let me fall into sadness and loneliness.  She forced me to stay on my feet, to keep going and to fall into the arms of God.

And look at Kalen’s friends celebrating afterwards:

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 8.42.39 AM

This victory was not Kalen’s alone.

It belonged to all those guys who refused to give up on him.  When they ran to embrace Kalen and celebrate with him afterwards, I was in full blown sobs because I hadn’t reached that victory yet.

I wasn’t celebrating God’s goodness.

But as I watched those giant men dance and hug and rejoice, I realized that one day that would be me and my friends.  One day, I too would be celebrating.

At that point in my life, I was still running precariously backwards, being pulled by the enemy and close to stumbling.  But I was supported by my friends and the end zone was in sight.

Today, I am celebrating.

Today I have experienced the thrill of victory- of clinging to God even when His ways seem wrong and confusing.  But back in October, when I didn’t have victory yet, God was reminding me that celebration was coming.  I wasn’t alone and the team He had handpicked for me wasn’t going to let me fall.

My team is not a bunch of burly men with bulging biceps, but they are still pretty dang hardcore:photo-3

I am who I am today because these girls force me to keep after my goal and keep pursuing my God, even during disappointing seasons.

I hope that you too are supported by a team of people who will not let you fall.  I hope that you have friends and family around you who will keep you on your feet and push and pull you towards Jesus in those moments when you feel like walking away.  And I hope that you realize these teammates are a sweet gift from God.

One of His sweetest gifts, if you ask me.

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