I got myself out of the house at 7:00 AM which is unheard of on a Sunday morning. I’d set out early to buy the week’s groceries before church. Luke was coming over after service to watch his beloved Eagles play their second game of the season. He could watch in his dorm but Chip Kelly’s offense would look better in high def at home and the snacks are free.
Not even coffee makes grocery shopping that early easy but I managed. At the check out the clerk asked me why I was out so early.
“My son is coming over to watch the game and I want to be stocked up.”
“Is he a Bronco’s fan?”
“No an Eagle’s fan.”
“Are you from Philly?” she asked looking surprised.
“No but I’m a Cowboy’s fan so he chose them to spite me. They’re division rivals.”
“Sort of,” I said.
“Well have fun.”
“I will. I miss having him around.”
“I bet. The two of you have been so close.”
“Yeah,” I said wincing at her comment.
Loading up my car her words stung. I couldn’t help but think about all the struggles my oldest and I’ve had in the last year and half. The push and pull of finding your way as a young adult has hurt more than I could have imagined.
My friends with older kids tell me it’s normal but it was a guy from high school with no kids that finally put it in terms I could understand.
“Deep down he knows he needs to become a man and you can’t help him with that so he has to push away from you,” he said.
“But that’s not true I can help him.”
“No you can’t,” he insisted.
Immediately, I questioned his wisdom because he isn’t a parent. But then I talked to several experts and they all agreed. I asked one why he had to be so awful about it and he said, “A boy will pick a fight with his mother just to create distance between them because it makes the separation easier.”
“Well it stinks,” I said.
Sitting in church I had a hard time focusing on the message. My thoughts were on Luke and how mixed up things get in his young adult head. I could empathize with how hard it is to make sense of the world. I was his age once and I wouldn’t want to go back. I remember picking lots of fights with my Mom and thinking she was always against me when nothing could be further from the truth.
“Mom, you’re not supposed to cheer when one of your rivals scores.”
“Why not?” I asked knowing the answer to my question.
“That’s not what most fans do.”
“I guess I’m not most fans then.”
“I guess not,” he said rolling his eyes.
I took a deep breath and thought twice before I went on. You never know what will make a nineteen year old mad.
“I guess that’s where we’re different. I can cheer for Michael Vick because I know it makes you happy to see him do well. I care more about that than the rivalry between our teams. It doesn’t have to be a competition between us.”
“I totally don’t get that,” he said.
Things didn’t end well for the Eagles. Luke left disappointed. Still he managed to thank me for lunch and even threw in a hug for good measure.
I went upstairs to get something from Chase’s room and slumped on his bed wondering if Luke and I were making any ground. I laid there awhile and prayed. When I was done I stood up and noticed a sign I put in Chase’s room a couple years back. It says, “I’m A Fan of You”. He’d set a penny next to it.
Reading it the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “You were a living sign today. Keep doing that and one day he’ll get it. That’s one of my strategies and it seems to work.”
I turned and looked out the window at the mountains and thought wow it’s true. Through the glory of creation, the kindness of friends, even the compassion of strangers God has my whole life shown me He’s a fan of me—even when I don’t think He is.
I know in my heart it takes time to see the truth. I never see what God wants me to see quickly. But when your heart aches for anyone you love to see what’s obvious it’s hard to wait. It’s hard to summon up your fighting spirit and remember the game isn’t over.
However, Lord willing (and I think He is) Luke and I have plenty of time left on the clock. One day I think he’ll get it. I hope that doesn’t require me wearing that awful green and black but there are worse color combos in the NFL and worse teams. True fans weather whatever conditions are thrown their way, and “mom fans” are wired to do it better than most. Poncho anyone?