Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gone To The Dawgs

I am a big Georgia Bulldog fan. I started following football because my Grandpa Richard watched football. I loved my Grandpa and I wanted to understand and connect with him, so I watched, listened, and learned about football.

When I first started studying football, it was a mystery to me. The fans would cheer over what seemed like something bad. I mean the guy ran seven yards, so what? He's nowhere near the end zone.

And all those off-sides calls were very confusing. But, if you observe long enough (and I did), you begin to know what all the jargon means. You begin to speak the language and  to see things the announcers miss. Eventually, I could discuss football with more knowledge than most and was allowed to express opinions among male friends and relatives. I had reached football utopia: equality between the sexes.

Not only that, but shortly after I started following the Dawgs and chose them as my team, they signed a kid out of Wrightsville named Herschel Walker. And suddenly, Georgia had arrived. Before you can say, "Lindsay Scott," my own Georgia Bulldogs had won the SEC and beaten Notre Dame for the National Championship. Ahhh, 1980, it was a good year.

And thus my fate was sealed. I would forever be a Georgia Bulldog. "How 'Bout Them Dawgs?" became my mantra. I would even call my cousin Jody every year after we whipped the Florida Gators yet again and say, "Hello? Jody? This is Vince Dooley calling."

A few years later Jody would return the favor: "Hello? Karen? This is Steve Spurrier calling." Man, did I ever hate that Steve Spurrier!

So, it's no surprise that my husband Kevin is also a big Dawg fan. We attended UGA together, got engaged while we were there, married right afterwards. We have no divided household here.

Kevin takes UGA football way more seriously than I do. He is what you might call a rabid Dawg fan. Kevin worries that our children might marry across college football loyalty lines. The first question my husband asks my daughter when she is dating someone is this: "Is he a Georgia Bulldog? What about his parents? Do they follow the Dawgs? Did they go to the University of Georgia?"

Really, truly, I could not even make this up.

Kevin & Caleb at Sanford Stadium
Unfortunately for my kids, they are far more dedicated than me or even their rabid dad. Taylor and Caleb have it bad. A win can make their week and a loss can leave them dejected and in the bed.

"No, Mom, you don't understand. I can't go to church tomorrow! Not after the Dawgs lost the SEC championship like that!" Not my proudest moment as a parent. Even Kevin recognizes the severity of the problem and has apologized to them for making such a big deal out of the Georgia Bulldogs. And folks, that there is true repentance.

So, though I am a big fan, I don't want my kids to find their meaning in life and their identity for who they are in the Georgia Bulldogs. I don't want them so wrapped up in a team or a game that it defines good days and bad days.

Real life is found in knowing God. Not knowing stats about Him. It is in KNOWING the Father and KNOWING the Son. There was a day when being a daughter of God became my identity. 

Being a child of the Most High God continually challenges my loyalties to lesser  things. At times I have held on tightly as I could to what I thought I would give me life. Those times have been marked by pain. Other times it seemed easy to relinquish what is His anyway. Those times were marked by joy and freedom. It is a daily, sometimes hourly, release of those idols that compete for my heart. But God is faithful.

 "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord....." Philippians 3:8

Where are you finding your identity today?