Is it “really”… just a game?

My mom (on left) and their tabs at Big Al's for Ducks football.

My mom (on left) and their table at Big Al’s for Ducks football.

Being apart from family to get life together a few years back (2012) was both the hardest thing I had ever done, as well as the best thing I had ever done. On one hand, I needed to figure life out. I needed to get help to unlock the deepest mysteries of my life from experiences long past, yet tucked secretly and deeply within my memories. I needed a place to breathe. How and why that was afforded to me, I will never know. But this I do know, I will take it as a gift from God and an incredibly loving and amazing family. The other hand was in finally being ready to face life in a deep and dark way, yet this time with the backdrop of the power of an empty tomb. During this season, my mom with her friend, started going to this huge entertainment complex called Big Al’s. They literally had become like every person who worked there’s grandmothers. It was and still is incredible for me to watch the different staff members come by and share the deepest parts of their stories with them. It was also in this season that I would begin to join my mom and her friend there each Saturday to watch the Oregon Ducks play football. And let me tell you, watching the game there is quite the experience with their room sized HUGE TV’s plastered everywhere. After my dad passed away in 2003, watching sports had really never been the same. But something about going each Saturday that fall to watch those games was starting to do something for me. Now of course, as a fan or spectator, I have learned that it is indeed, just a game. I have learned that yes, the sky does NOT fall when your team loses. Oh how we so easily submit our mindsets to the power of a game. Either we are on top of the world or it is the end of the world.

I have learned to enjoy the experience, but to not let it destroy my existence.

In October of that year, I invited my daughter to join me for a game. She seemed hesitant at first, but then agreed to come. And perhaps like the first flower in bloom each spring, so was new life beginning to bloom again for me. Since then, on most Saturdays each fall, my daughter will join me for our standing date at Big Al’s to watch football. And of course, we sit at the table with my mom and her friends, which is usually all decorated accordingly for the Ducks. I mean, they REALLY get into it. Certainly, it is indeed, just a game. But for my daughter to say yes to joining me to watch that game two years ago, something changed about the game. Perhaps that in the wake of nearly destroying my existence, it would be this experience that would give me hope. That all things were not lost. Or at least the things most important to me. Other than travel for business, a lot of opportunities have had to take a backseat each Saturday for me. Not watching these games are not negotiable. Even today, my daughter is cutting short her day hanging out with her mom to go watch the game. Her mom(my wife) would probably come from time to time, but you see… she graduated at Oregon State, so that’s a problem. But she also sees the value of us spending time together and being intentional. For a wife and mom to see that in her husband with their children… that is huge. In this, just be consistent with it. Like, everyday with it. Building relationships, rebuilding relationships, or even restoring relationships are long hard roads. But you’ll never reach your destination unless you take that first step. To travel this road takes courage, vision, humility, faith, forgiveness, grace, consistency, and so much more. And it will be one step at a time.

For me on this journey, it so happened to involve a game.. and then another game, and another game. Who would have ever foreseen this playing out this way? I know I didn’t. The sky had fallen.

But like in that of a game, there are 4 quarters to play. My daughter saying yes to come join me and watch that game was like that of a coach telling me in the locker room at halftime after a brutal first half to chin up… you still have another half to play. Today, we will go watch the game. And as I look back, I am thankful. In this, I would love to ponder further upon the past. But, I have a second half to play and coach wants me in the game. So do I. #GoDucks

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