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One of my best friends tells me that my one quirk, the part of my personality inconsistent with all the rest, is that I like football.  I don’t personally see this as a contradiction; maybe there are other things about me she doesn’t know.  My brother does not like football.  Or at least, though he may enjoy it, he sees it as an attack on the priorities of our nation, and more particularly, his family.  Sure, football is a great team game of hard work and strategy.  But people are obsessed, and paying millions of dollars to men who do nothing but feed our entertainment lust is unproductive.  “Hello!  What about Hollywood?”  My brother feels almost the same about movies.  Except that movies can communicate important messages, an aspect of entertainment rather lacking when it comes to sports. 

All the same, I see football as a sort of strategy class and people-watching session.  Living in Colorado, I became a fan of the Broncos when they were doing well enough to win back-to-back Superbowls.  And for several years afterwards, I stuck with them, engaging in the family ritual of changing into team colors after church and sitting down with pizza and a pop in front of the television to watch the came and coach from the couch.  I adopted the title of Morale Coach, wanting to encourage our players to play hard and to be good sports, not to fight or taunt or through tantrums.  Years of disappointing seasons and gloomy Sunday afternoons took their toll, so that I wasn’t sad when I committed to do a Bible study on Sundays during football. 

Fair weather fan?  I can justify that.  Last year was the worst, the Broncos harboring a team full of players who didn’t seem to want to win.  And if the players aren’t trying and don’t want to win, I’m not going to sacrifice my happiness cheering for them.  Much as I admire Coach Shanahan, I have to admit coaching ought to impact the attitude of the team – a team that had its share of personal trouble, losing a teammate in a dramatic drive-by shooting and generally being involved with a party crowd up to no good.  Still, one has to follow Mike Shanahan’s example of accepting the need for a new coach driving the Broncos. 

This season is a whole new ballgame.  A young coach named McDaniels came in and, holding his head high through some early controversy, established his game.  There’s a lot of new talent – or new to Denver – on this year’s lineup.  Our running backs aren’t signature Mike Shanahan anymore.  But our defense can play, our punter is good, and our offensive line is holding long enough for a no-name quarterback, Orton, to come through with his plays and make all of us rethink his place among the league’s quarterbacks.  Play has been clean, with few sloppy turnovers. 

I’m not saying the Broncos don’t have their weaknesses.  What I’m pointing at is energy.  The defense sees the ball coming towards them, and everyone around takes a lunge at it.  There’s no casual, “he’s not my man to cover” attitude, or wimpy shoves representing themselves as tackles.  On offense, when there’s no hope left of making the first down or of scoring that big run, the running back, Moreno, pushes for a few more opponent-dragging feet.  Introducing a creative new formation, called the Wild Horses, the offense has been willing to take risks, and capitalize on unexpected opportunities (read: deflected passes caught and run for big plays). 

The Broncos are 5-0, and it’s all about enthusiasm.  After the overtime win this Sunday, the coach took a leap into a celebration hug with one of his guys, a player I don’t recognize, a nobody – of whom the coach is proud, with whom the coach has rapport.  Everyone was slamming their fists into the air, jumping and yelling.  The last time the Broncos won their first 5 games, they won the Superbowl, and I became a fan.  This year, a fan is reborn. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Why am I writing this series?  On Saturday I went to a jewelry party (like Pampered Chef, Tupperware, PartyLite candles, etc.)  There are rules for how to wear your jewelry!  People are afraid to try something new or not their typical style.  Layers are very “in” right now.  But you can go with a classic look that never goes out of fashion.  My friend who was hosting the party disagreed with some of the fundamentals of wardrobe, and the jewelry saleslady assented, “If it looks good to you, wear it; it’s all about confidence.”  I know my friend is independent-minded.   

Style is a big industry.  People advertise their designer creativity with crazy lines of clothing in fashion shows, and somehow make plenty of money.  This happens even though I don’t see anyone but models wearing those things, and if they’re not wearing them, are they really buying them?   Why do people follow trends, anyway?  The popular girl wore that, so I will too?  We really think the movie star’s life is so wonderful that we want to do everything like them, including clothes and hair? 

Because something is popular, we consider it beautiful?  Or just because it is new and different, edgy, we invest money in it?  I can understand doing that with a car (whose innovations usually look good and have functional improvements in performance).   Apparently advertising agencies run the world.  They created the concept of teenager, which now governs economics, education, family, marriage, morality, justice…  The industry tells us how to spend our money by manipulating emotional, need-to-fit-in people into feeling like they need their products.   

Do we have a choice?  Does God have choices?  What is the meaning of not choosing something?  Is value subjective or objective?  Is value placed on a thing by a chooser, or is it inherent?   The capitalist system of economics is based on the notion that consumers will act on their sense of value.  For example, I value a necklace at the jewelry party, but I value other uses of my money more. 

A wrench is thrown in the theory of capitalism when I say that even though I value something more than my fluid cash, I won’t buy the item because of moral/spiritual convictions.  I may believe that God doesn’t want me to spend money I don’t have, for example.  I believe that $15,000 would be a great deal for a house.  But I don’t have 15 grand, so I’m not acting on my sense of value.  Even if I need a house, or think it is a great investment, I won’t buy.   

God is also teaching me about embracing sacrifice, intentionally going without what I want.  This is part of the concept behind fasting.  Fasting is a huge exercise of will over want.   If I was being sincere, I would tell you how I really feel about fasting.  My convictions tell me that the way I feel is sometimes wrong.  So I will exercise my will in acting upon what I ought to be in order that I may become that ideal in sincerity.   

Finally, I’ve been reflecting on strong-willed people, especially children who try their parents.  Some strong-willed rebels are breaking my heart.  Other strong-willed children are too young to have made life-altering mistakes.  I listen to their parents talk about them, and I wonder if I could help them to understand the puzzles who are their children.  Would it benefit them to know?   Dr. Dobson wrote a book.  I haven’t read it.  He doesn’t seem to be strong-willed to me.  I think President Bush is.  President Reagan was. 

Heroes are strong-willed, fictional or historical.  Villains tend to be that, as well.  In Beauty and the Beast, both main characters are strong-willed.  Think of their argument after she runs away.  But, as the song says, somebody bends unexpectedly.  Notice it doesn’t say somebody was bent.  They bend.  The tense is intransitive.   

I can relate.  This could be titled, “Confessions of a Strong-willed Christian.”  In writing this series, I discovered a lot about myself, and happily connected dots.  I have a friend who thinks that it is inconsistent with the rest of my personality that I like to watch football.  My position is that it must be linked to my fundamental identity.  This has been an exercise in associating who I am with that identity.  But no, I still can’t explain why I like football. 

Still to come:

What is a Strong-Willed Person? 

How Can you Tell if Someone is Strong-Willed? 

What should Parents of Strong-Willed Children Do?  

Is there Hope?  The Good Side of Strong Will.  To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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