I’m a middle child. I have a brother three and a half years older and a sister six and a half years younger. I haven’t found a characteristic of middle children I don’t fulfill. In my family siblings were pitted against each other. I’d never be as good as my brother. When my sister succeeded it was obviously because she hung around my brother. When she failed it was obviously because she hung out with me. I dont have a great relationship with any of my immediate family members, and in the last few years I’ve adjusted better than I had previously.
My junior year of high school I ran for student body president of my high school. It was a brand new school and there were only 9th, 10th, and 11th graders attending at the time. When it opened it was only freshmen and sophomores. I did not win the election and when my mother heard the news she shared encouragement in her own way, “Well, you’re a loser anyway” she said. This has obviously stuck with me for over two decades. I eventually learned that I wasn’t an overall loser, and losing here and there doesn’t make me a loser, but every once in a while it comes back up.
Yesterday was Super Bowl LIV where the Kansas City Chiefs faced off with the San Francisco 49ers. I’ve been a Niners fan for as long as I can remember, so this game was a big deal. Giving up a ten point lead and all but giving up in the 4th quarter, the Chiefs won and Niner Nation was once again stuck on the losing side of a Super Bowl for the second time in seven years.
During my inpatient stay at Epworth last year, one of the things that surfaced in the different group sessions we shared was that I am a full blown catastrophizer. If you don’t know what that means, it means if I get a paper cut I start making funeral plans. It doesn’t take much for me to go from paper cut to funeral. I can spill milk and jump straight to famine. I can change lanes too slowly and envision a multi car pile up. Sprinkle a bit of conditioning in the spirit of “If you ain’t first, your last” and you have a major facet of my cinematic imagination.
The 49ers obviously lost the Super Bowl because we missed church that morning. Or maybe it was because my wife and I got into a spat earlier that day. Maybe it was because of the thoughts of self-harm I had the day before when financial relief vanished before it had materialized. Or maybe it was because my mother was right…maybe I am a loser. That must be why Oklahoma got obliterated in the CFP semifinal by the eventual champion in LSU.
It’s difficult for my wife to pull me up when I get this low. And I may even go so far as to say it’s annoying to her. We’re surrounded by blessings and provisions and goodness and here I am literally crying after a football game whose outcome I had zero effect on. And she’s right. We have two beautiful children. We have a lovely, safe, and spacious home. We have food in the fridge and in the pantry and we have never been without.
Thirty-one years ago I remember the 49ers winning the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXIII on January 22, 1989 where the Niners beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Miami, Florida…coincidentally, the same city where Super Bowl LIV was played. I dont remember the other 49er victories, mostly because I blocked out so much of my childhood, but I know they happened. I wanted the 49ers to win because I wanted that feeling again. That feeling of celebrating with my dad as we listened to the game on the radio in the van. I wanted that feeling any fan gets when their team wins the big one. I love hats and I love repping my teams. If I have a hoodie to go with it, even better. And I explored in an earlier blog why I love the Niners so much.
So congratulations, Kansas City (Missouri). Congrats to the Chiefs franchise for closing out a monster season. And thank you, Santa Clara, I mean San Francisco for the 49ers season. It was quite the run this season, especially after the last few, and it was a hell of a ride. But this one isn’t on me. I know it isn’t my fault. And even if it was, it isn’t everything. Just like losing the student body president election wasn’t everything. As much as I love the 49ers, they aren’t everything. As much as I love OU Football, they aren’t everything either.
So I thought a little bit more about it, and I thought about who my favorite team is. And then it hit me. As obvious as it is, it didn’t really click until yesterday. But when it did I wasn’t sad anymore, because I knew that I’m not a loser and even if I do lose here or there, these losses don’t monopolize my identity. My identity is anchored in the fact that I am a child of God. I belong to God’s Kingdom. His team is my favorite team. And all the losses and failures of earlier in my life…they have been forgiven. They were forgiven before I knew they were even forgiven. They were forgiven when I chose to renounce Satan and all his works when I got baptized in 2017. They were forgiven when Jesus died on the cross.
Without Him I am lost. Without Him my life was meandering and purposeless. But now, now that I willingly know Jesus and have an active relationship with Him, my life is different. It’s different as a man, as a father, as a husband, as a friend, neighbor, and brother. And I know my purpose now. And so I write. I write about how I learned. About how I have grown. About how I will grow. I write about what I know and what I don’t I write about the people and places that I encounter because someone, somewhere will learn from it. I write because I am able. I write to share the good news of His love.