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I am a fan of the Buffalo Bills. I hate this about myself. They are terrible. After watching them get trounced today by the 49ers I started to re-think being a Bills fan…and this is not a decision taken lightly. I’ve liked the Bills since 1993. I’ve had years and years of ups and downs and lefts and “wide rights.”
It’s terrible being a Bills fan because they always rope you in with all kinds of hope for the future – a return to the glory days (mind you, the glory days consisted of losing 4 Superbowl’s in a row, but we Bills fans cling to the fact that we actually made it there 4 years in row as something to be proud of) – but invariably let you down every year (literally without exception…the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999…I was 12 years old.)
Funny thing about my being a fan of the Bills – I am diehard. Literally. I read about them every day, follow their every move, study their plays, I know every player and all of their stats. I listen to a Bills centered podcast. I am a sponge when it comes to Bills knowledge. Yet despite all of my knowledge of the Bills and all of the years of watching them and talking about them – they have just sucked forever. My being a fan of them doesn’t impact anything. Just me – just my life (it makes my life decidedly worse). So why do I keep following them?
Maybe it’s blind hope that someday things will get better. Maybe it’s because they are who I’m used to and it’s incredibly hard to dislodge myself from them. Maybe it’s because I fear disappointing my fellow Bills fans who find themselves just as disappointed every season and who come back for more week in and week out. Whatever the reason is, it’s a crazy sense of loyalty I feel toward them and it hasn’t mattered how it’s impacted me for the last 19 years of my life, I just keep trudging along, riding the highs and crashing with the lows.
But all this thinking about jumping off the wagon (which have had a very hard time “circling” this year…) got me thinking about how close following football is to being a Christian (or…any religion I would suppose). I mean think about it, you read a book and study it inside and out, you learn God’s “plays” for your life, you listen to podcasts of sermons to learn more about it, you get together with your buddies every Sunday and talk about it, and you faithfully devote your life to it – even when things are terrible. You hold out hope that things are going to get better because the book tells you that there is a hope for the future – and that things will turn around if you just keep trudging along.
It’s eerie to me how similar the two are. Because truthfully I’ve been a Bills fan just as long as I’ve been a Christian, and I’ve just recently broken up with the die-hard Christian life I was pursuing and have become more of a skeptic/bystander/seeker at this point – something I haven’t been able to do with the Bills yet. Isn’t that weird?
But in the process of taking a step away from the “reading my Bible everyday and listening to sermons all the time” I felt like I was letting people down, and so I separated myself from them. I’ve left the church, I’ve cut ties and contacts with lots of the people who were around during that time as well – all because of the shame, the guilt, the insecurity I felt in taking a step back. I didn’t want to be judged, I just needed a break. I needed to find myself, not be told who I was anymore. I didn’t want to be viewed as a failure, but as genuine.
All of the effort I once put into the Christian lifestyle, the bible memorization and the worship leading and everything else – I no longer do. I feel free. My roommate went to church tonight, and he had to go like 2 hours early to “help set up” and “run the powerpoint.” He didn’t want to either, he was tired and grumpy and not interested, but he was committed and so he went. I told him he’d probably get an extra jewel on his crown in heaven – but even despite the encouragement he told me that it didn’t sound as interesting to him as sitting on his ass all day watching football.
Trudging. Is that what the Christian life comes down to? Dragging yourself to church to help set up? To hang with your buddies and listen to someone talk about Jesus for a little while, then go home, read more about what you heard and trudge, trudge, trudge. Honestly…most of the people that pop into my head when I think of “trudgers” are those “doing ministry.” Day in and day out, wanting to be devoting yourself to this thing, this religion, that makes big waves in the community and does big things like actually helping people, only to realize that each and every Sunday rolls around and you’re let down yet again.
Christians must be Bills fans, even if they don’t know it. Constantly rolling into church hoping things are going to be different only to find that they are on powerpoint duty again and the site pastor forgot to bring the power cord for the computer so now you have to drive all over to go get it and bring it back so that church can run smoothly and that people will be…what? Impacted? Helped? Saved? Fed? Clothed? Does that stuff actually happen on the regular? …but isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about? This morning I got up and saw a pastor tweet that his sermon for that day was entitled: “Why Black Men Won’t Go to the Doctor” with a hashtag that said WAKE UP MEN!
Because, ya know, there is a lot of biblical support for why black men don’t go to the doctor. So it makes sense that that would be your sermon topic for the day…
What the hell.
There has got to be a better team out there to root for. It’s just so hard to break up with what you’ve known your whole life and find something different to cheer for.