This past year has been pretty hard. Bethany has been so sick, my team (Auburn) had a 3-9 seasons last year topped off with a 49-0 loss to our arch rival (Alabama), said Alabama, won the national championship, and my presidential candidate loss to our current president (whom I disagree with on every policy decision imaginable). Christmas 2012 was hard. Bethany was in the hospital for 14 days, but was thankfully released just days before December 25th.
So, as the year came to a close, I did some soul searching and came to a conclusion. Football and politics are a big waste of emotional energy. I decided then and there to focus on my family, our church,
and helping Bethany get her new liver. I did not watch any news. Wow, what a huge relief! I only heard about good things. Yes, of course I couldn’t avoid hearing of what was happening around me, but now I
limited my intake of that information.
I also avoid any news regarding Auburn football. I’ve never been one of those fans who eat and drink football 24/7, 365, but I have always enjoyed keeping up with what was happening and looked forward
to the new season. But not this year…instead, as others told me about Auburn’s chances to be better, I just said, “That’s great!” and then I went back to my business. Even as the new season began, I didn’t watch the games that closely. A couple of the games I didn’t even know the score until someone at church told me how Auburn had done.
My new outlook helped me keep life in perspective. The most important things were my relationship with God, my family, and serving my church. Over this past summer, Bethany became very sick. She spent all of July and August in Children’s hospital.
Bethany and I were out of her room walking to the sandwich shop one particular day. On the way, a young lady and her son came upon us. Bethany had her iv pole and was wearing an Auburn t-shirt. The young lady comes over to Bethany and begins to ridicule her about how bad Alabama would beat Auburn this year and about how awful our team is.
This really aggravated Bethany. The girl was really being nasty. I looked at her calmly and just said, “I’m sure both teams will play well. Good luck!” The young lady continued on with her abuse. I then responded, “You know, there’s more to life than a football game.” With that, we continued on our way and tried not to think about how mean spirited this person had been to a total stranger. My new outlook had helped me to respond in kindness and to not remain angry.
Fall arrived and with it another football season. Along with college football came the government shutdown and the battle over of healthcare. I remained out of the conversation content to sit on the sidelines of the debates and offer prayers instead of appraisals.
Bethany remained very sick having to remain constantly on iv antibiotics. Everyone was hospital weary, and we all suffered from medical lethargy and fatigue. The house was in disarray. Bank statements piled up side by side with the laundry, dirty dishes, and a chore list too long to fit on three legal pads.
We needed a boost, and God already had a plan. His plan involved family. It involved friends. And, it involved other that we have never met. God’s plan was to bless us beyond our ability to comprehend. He took care of the laundry, the to do lists, the broken air conditioner, fallen gutter, burnt out dishwasher motor, failing electrical system on the oven, and too many other things I can’t even begin to describe.
God’s plan also involved using people we had never met and others who we didn’t know cared so much for us. His plan involved lives touched, and hopes renewed. And you know what else it involved? God’s plan also involve both Auburn and Alabama fans, democrats and republicans, believers in Christ and yes non-believers. God is truly amazing!
In late October, Bethany entered the hospital again; this time for a week. Her picc line was no longer usable. She had a port inserted under her skin and was placed on another 30 days of antibiotics. While there, we meet some awesome Alabama football players, Shawn Austin and Cade Foster. These guys were so generous with their time even though Bethany wore her Auburn shirt down to meet them.
Shawn Austin helped to start the Beads of Courage at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. Austin, Cade Foster, and several other team members wear these beads during their games in honor of the many sick children who are considered critically ill. Cade is the young field goal kicker who missed 3 field goals in last night’s game.
I wrote about these young men and posted pictures on Facebook about Bethany’s visit with them. I bragged on these kind men, and even said I might have to root for them when not playing my team. Most thought this pretty cool. Others thought I had gone too far. I, on the other hand, believed I was remaining true to my pre-season decision to keep football in perspective. Football is just a game. Enjoy it for what it is.
So, what is my personal confession? It has to do with the Auburn Alabama game last night. It was an amazing game. I didn’t see much of the first half. I had other things to do. I still kept my perspective. Football is not the most important thing. But this was the Auburn Alabama game, and it is always more than just a game in the state of Alabama. For many, this game is their entire year. They live for this one moment to see their team beat the other.
I was excited about the game, and believed Auburn had a reasonable chance to win. When Auburn turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter in our own territory, I figured the game was over. Then Auburn held Alabama. Then Auburn scored! Finally, Alabama attempted a 57 yard field goal. And then the unbelievable happen, Auburn ran the field goal attempt 109 yards for a touch down! Amazing! Unbelievable!
I was in the hospital cafeteria waiting for a pizza delivery. I could almost hear Rod Bramblett calling the game. “He at the 20, 30, 40…Alabama’s 45! Oh my goodness, HE’S GONNA SCORE! HE’S GONNA SCORE! AUBURN’S GONNA WIN! AUBURN’S GONNA WIN THE IRON BOWL! HE SCORES! AUBURN WINS! AUBURN WINS! AUBURN WINS!!!”
I couldn’t believe it. Auburn had done the unbelievable, again.
And then came the replay…
As I watched the play unfold, I started laughing. I couldn’t help myself. Not a joyful, oh my goodness kind of laugh, but a giddy, kind of in your face kind of laugh. I laughed with joy of the victory. I laughed with the joy of, “Ha! We beat you suckers!” And I didn’t just laugh that one time either. It continues to happen the same way each time I see that replay. Even now as I write and think about this play, I have an almost unkind grin upon my face. It just makes me happy to see Auburn dash the hopes of the “it’s my birthright to be National Champion” Alabama fans. And as hard as I try, I just can’t make myself stop smiling.
What am I say? I’m saying, that try as I may, I guess, “I just have a little too much Auburn Tiger in me!”
War Eagle, Merry Christmas, and see you at the SEC Championship!