Super Bored Sunday

Today I am a social outcast. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I don’t care.

I’ve tried to like football, or at least tolerate it. But I can’t lie. It’s just not me. I don’t follow college sports. I don’t follow professional sports—except for baseball, America’s favorite pastime. I cheer on my kids when they play. But me? I just don’t get it. And I don’t want to get it.

For a while I tried to pretend that I didn’t understand football. Why are all those men chasing each other just to squat down on that funny-shaped brown ball? I figured if I asked enough stupid questions I’d be banned from viewing.

Feigning ignorance worked for a while. But then I realized I didn’t get it. When I grew up, I liked playing backyard football. I begged my dad to show me how to throw spirals. I can do it—but I still don’t have the right technique. I can catch. But it wasn’t until the women teachers participated in a Powder Puff football game that I realized I really was ignorant.

I don’t like being ignorant.

I tried out for the team, and the coach put me in as a receiver. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that only certain players were allowed to catch the ball. I always figured whoever was open caught the pass. I knew nothing about linemen and skilled players, lining down and blocking.

It didn’t take long for the Powder Puff coach to realize I was a threat—to our team. I could catch, yes. But he used me to send in the plays. Whenever I popped in the huddle, I became so befuddled that I couldn’t remember the sequence of numbers or the special terms. 48 blitz to the right something or another. Ah, just do whatever.

He benched me.

Part of my job is to teach my journalism students how to write about sports. I learned an invaluable lesson. If you don’t know anything about the sport, don’t cover it. It was then I made it my personal goal to learn football. If I were going to teach my writers to cover sports, I had to learn how to do it myself.

So I found myself down on the sidelines with my camera and reporter’s notepad. I learned about stunting and off tackle. I could spot motion in the backfield, illegal blocking, horse collaring, face masking, and other penalties.

But I never could quite get the hang of shooting action shots on the field. My zoom always froze. I should have used a monopod. My hands were too shaky. Interviews with the coaches weren’t a big deal, but I really had to work at learning how to talk football.

I still don’t fully get it. I guess my heart’s just not into it. Oh, I understand the passion players possess. Kenny Chesney’s song “The Boys of Fall” paints a beautiful picture in a literary sort of way.

I thrive on competition. I played softball and wore my Hale’s Angels travel team uniform with pride. I was offered a scholarship to play at a junior college but went with the full-ride academic scholarship I had from MTSU.

When it came down to softball, I would do anything just to be on the field. I’ve played with fevers. I’ve dodged missiles whizzing past my face. I’ve been hit. I’ve been threatened by Amazon women on rival teams. I broke my own teammate’s nose when I was trying to make an out at home. I was dead on. I hurled the ball right to the catcher, and it caught her right between the eyes. I don’t know how she didn’t see it coming.

I get the blood, the sweat, the tears that come with the game. I just don’t get football.

My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday is the half-time show, and this year it’s Madonna. No offense, Madonna, but I don’t get you either. I want music, not theatrics.

I can’t even enjoy the Super Bowl parties. I’m a dedicated Weight Watcher, and I don’t want to blow my points on chips and dip. Chocolate just doesn’t mean that much to me anymore. I’d rather be healthy. I’d rather not have to pry on my new jeans.

So Super Bowl Sunday, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I am going to slip off and watch a chick flick while the men in my family watch the last game of the season. I think the Giants and the Patriots are playing. Somebody give me a fist bump. I didn’t even have to Google it to find out.

I don’t follow either team, but if I had to choose, I’d say go Pats. You’re as close as I can get to Boston right now. And for me, Boston means one thing—baseball.

Let’s get this game over with and start singing “Sweet Caroline.”

9-11 and Reckless Abandon

I was bouncing on and off Twitter when I saw a tweet from Ellen Hopkins that challenged writers to blog about our freedoms. Actually, I had been thinking about doing so already, but I was a bit hesitant because I have a strong conviction that I should use my words to bless, not to curse. Not that I would ever use my blog to curse, but we all know how easily words can be misconstrued. How ironic I should say that considering this blog is about transparency.

Transparency? The word is probably not what you would consider when you think of 9-11 and freedom, but I am thankful that I have the God-given right—and I do mean God-given—to be transparent –to be me, to not worry about whether I measure up to somebody else’s perception of  who I should be. I am who I am. God gave me free will. However, I willingly gave up the right to make decisions for myself because I wanted an omnipotent God of infinite love to tell me what is best for my life. Not everyone has made that decision.

If I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing, that is keeping a close, daily dialogue with my creator, then I shouldn’t worry that I will compromise my integrity. Am I tempted? Of course. Do I mess up? Sadly, yes. We all do. It’s easy to turn a deaf ear to the still small voice when there’s something we want that doesn’t fit in with God’s current plan. But if we return to our daily, never ceasing dialogue, then we will do what it takes to make our relationship right again.

When I grew up, I thought that for people to become Christians, they had to dress a certain way, wear their hair a certain way, talk a certain way, listen to certain types of music. This perception became quite confusing to me after several people professing to be Christian contradicted one other with their rules. Who was right, I often wondered. Then I went straight to the source—the Bible—and found the answer. God is right. God doesn’t place an emphasis on the outward appearance. He goes straight to the heart.

What matters most to God is love.

So my blog about transparency could just as easily be a blog about love. The freedom I am most thankful for is my freedom to love with reckless abandon. And I do.

I am a people person. I don’t think I can survive, or at least thrive, unless I’m around people. If I don’t have the freedom to be myself around people, I wither. A part of me dies. I think what I have loved most about being a teacher is that I can love my kids with reckless abandon, my God-given right.

I’m glad that God wove a creative spirit in my soul. I’m glad He made me quirky, unique. I’m glad He allows me the freedom to appreciate the music that Joe Walsh, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Black Crows and Sheryl Crow create. I’m glad that God allowed me to follow His team, the Red Sox with Dustin Pedroia, Tek, Youk and all my other favorites. I don’t know if these people (or their fans) have made the decision to trade their free will for God’s guidance, but if they happen to make bad decisions that don’t honor God, I can’t condemn them. That’s not my place. They have free will. I can love them with reckless abandon, not caring what those who will judge will say.

And loving them doesn’t mean that I have to condone their actions or hang out with them if they are in a place where I could be led astray. I can appreciate the gifts God has given them. God is the giver of all good things. And I can open wide my heart to them and love them with reckless abandon.

I think most of us are well aware of the controversial burning issue that was once proposed for 9-11. I just have one question: Where was the love in that plan?

People have free will to choose which house they will serve. It is not the human being’s job to force other people into believing what the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t instruct Christians to hate their enemies. Don’t get me wrong. There is a time, a season, to draw the line, to establish a boundary. If people use their free will to decide to cross the boundary, then they should expect consequences.

To love means to respect people for whom they are and to respect the choices that God allowed them to make—even if we don’t like them. To love means to grant people the freedom to be transparent, to be who they really are without inappropriate censure or disrespect.

I am thankful for my freedom of transparency. I’m glad that God has reassured me that I can wear my tee shirts, jeans and flip flops, I can play my guitar—loud if want, amplified on some occasions, I can write my Young Adult fiction, I can respect and learn from all people, even those who do not share my Christian beliefs. I can do all these things with reckless abandon—without worrying about other people’s perceptions—their perceptions don’t matter, not really.

God knows what’s in my heart, He knows my motivations and God is in control.