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Relationships Over Football

As I sit down to write this post, I am troubled with the fact that I, at one time, would have put something like football ahead of so many people in my life. I honestly do not think that I intentionally set out for that to be the case, but it happened, none-the-less.

I found myself putting things off and not following through with things because my favorite team was playing at some point in the day. I noticed my opinions about people changed because they cheered for a different team than I did. And the funny thing is, at this point in my life, I could honestly rationalize all of these things into a place of acceptance. Even to the extent that if someone did not see things like I did, they were clearly wrong. Then something happened . . .

A tragic event occurred in my life. Suddenly, I was in need of people to come alongside me, hold me up, pray for me, cry with me, listen to me, and really just love me. What I found, was that my football team that I “loved so much” was not what pulled me through the dark days. Actually, none of the players or coaches showed up at all. They must not have known just how important their team was to me, right? They must not have known how often I chose them over so many other things, right?

It was the friends and family who showed up in my time of need who pulled me through. I learned valuable lessons during this season of my life on many fronts. Mostly, when it came to my love and devotion to a team that could never love me back, I learned never to allow that to be more important than people. 

Please do not hear me say that enjoying football and cheering for a certain team are bad things. I believe they are meant to be enjoyed and can be great settings for friends to get together. I think the problem comes though, when our priorities are skewed. I remember back when Christ was pruning me in this area of my life, and He took me to First John, chapter four.

In this passage, when John encouraged the young Christians to love each other, he did not place conditions on that love. He says that we love people because that is who God is, and that will be proof of our relationship with Him. Somewhere along the lines, many of us have bought into a cultural perspective that we can really only love, or even like, those who are similar to us. If we are not careful in the state of Alabama from September to January, we will only show love and respect to those who would be willing to wear the same colors as we do on Saturdays.

Maybe we act this way at times because we have grown up in a culture that puts so much emphasis on one team over the other. I would even argue that many times, it is not intentional that our attitude about our favorite team comes at a cost of interpersonal relationships. But regardless of how it happens, the issue is, it does happen. The problem arises when intentionality does not really matter—so let’s do something about it.

As followers of Christ we are called to be about His business. We are called to be the light in the dark places. I pray that what could be said of each of us is that we value the eternal things over anything else, and the only thing we come into contact with here that is eternal are the souls of the people around us. Let’s work hard to make these relationships have top priority in our lives, because when we do, everyone wins. 

 

Michael Bozeman is a counselor for Pathways Professional Counseling, serving in multiple offices in central Alabama. 

 

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