Today is Halloween, and our neighborhood gets a lot of activity every year. We look forward to having some friends over and plan to give out over 8 bags of Costco-size bags of candy. But yesterday, I realized I had been wearing a costume of cowardice.
Yesterday marked a significant day for those of us that have significant ties to sports in the state of Georgia. In 1991, I was an avid baseball player and fan embracing the moment the Braves advanced to the World Series with a Sid Bream slide into home plate for the win. We went on to lose in the World Series that year but it sparked a fire of belief in the fan base, and we did end up winning it all a few years later in 1995. I collected hundreds of baseball cards from my favorite players, wore their numbers and mimicked their hitting stance, stood in line for hours to get their autographs, and hung their banners in my room. The Braves are now up 3-1 and are one game away from winning the World Series.
I also grew up a Georgia Bulldog fan and am also a graduate of the University. Born in 1979, I was 1 year old the last time they won a National Championship. Right now they are #1 in the nation, just secured the SEC East, and are on pace to a phenomenal year.
Oddly, last night I found myself unable to embrace the excitement for both teams and instead had a 'wait and see' type attitude. A bit cowardice and un-loyal, I know, but let me explain myself and why other fans might have a similar reservation. At UGA, we had many seasons under Coach Mark Richt where we said 'This is the year!' because of the massive talent we had over those years. Then we bring in Kirby Smart who finally gave us that shot in 2018. After an incredible win in the Rose Bowl over Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, we played Nick Saban and Alabama (in Atlanta!) for the National Championship. We were up 13-0 at halftime, and Alabama had pulled their starting QB. On 2nd and 26, this backup QB hit an open receiver to beat us in overtime 26-23. This game was only one year after the Falcons squandered a 28-3 lead over the Patriots in the Super Bowl and blew the largest lead in Super Bowl history. So to recap, the Falcons have never won a Super Bowl, the Hawks have gone 63 years without an NBA title, the Braves last title was 1995, and the UGA football team has had a 41 year dry spell. So fans in the state of Georgia have had their loyalty tested over the past few decades.
As I was sitting in this feeling of numbness last night, I had to check myself on my lack of loyalty. Part of having blind faith and loyalty is sticking with your unquestioning belief in something, even when it's unreasonable or wrong.
How often are each of us quick to hedge our loyalty in order to numb ourselves to the pain of loss or hurt?
It makes it easier to overcome loss or let down in life if we have numbed ourselves to the pain or saying that we don't care that much. Believe me, I have had to resort to that many times over the years. However, if we are numb to the pain, then we will also be numb to the joy. I don't want to be numb to the joy of loyalty to friends, family, and other things that matter greatly. That also means that I can't be numb to the pain that the loyalty might cause. I no longer want to wear this 'costume' to protect me from that pain. Part of the beauty of living is being able to enjoy the extremes of emotion. It helps us live deeper and richer.
So regardless of how the games and seasons end, I am now at peace with my emotions on living and giving them my loyalty. Even if that loyalty causes hurt, it allows me to live and experience life deeper. I encourage you this week to think about an area of your life where you could express deeper loyalty and have less fear over the pain of loss or hurt.
Have a great week!