Football Crazy

A miraculous occurrence took place in our house earlier this evening. Manchester United were due to play in their first UEFA Champions League match and I was just settling down to watch it on my phone, resplendent in my MUFC hooded top. I have supported United since I was six years old, through thick and thin. They will always have a special place in my heart and some of my best trips have been to their stadium, Old Trafford, to watch them play.

Adam and Rebecca have followed in their father’s footsteps and are both United fans; Hannah is ambivalent but if she had to choose would also say she was a Red. I am also convinced that Charlie the Border Terrier has a soft spot for them. If only he could speak. Which leaves us with my long suffering wife, Fionnuala, who has endured my life long love of all things United since we first met twenty one years ago.

She hates sport. She hates football. She tolerates Manchester United through gritted teeth. They are just another infuriating aspect of my character, along with countless other flaws too numerous to mention here. I am not nearly as bad as I used to be but she is resigned to the fact that if a United match is on television she loses her husband for ninety minutes. Plus injury time.


Imagine my shock therefore this evening when I saw her donning my United anorak to head out to the supermarket. Yes it was raining cats and dogs outside. Yes it was the only anorak to hand. But to anyone who later passed her in the shopping aisles, she was a fully fledged, 100% Red Devil. Liverpool fans would have looked away from her in disgust; Arsenal supporters turned the other cheek. But for tonight I was proud of my better half. She was finally one of us.

It’s so easy to put on a false front to the world. And just as Fionnuala was able to pass herself off as someone she was most definitely not, so many of us do the same every time we step out of our front door. Take me for instance. For years I passed myself off as the respectable, hard working family man. Always cracking a joke, always well thought off. When inside I was an emotional mess, unable to grieve for my father, living a fake online life and teetering on the brink of alcoholism. 

It was frighteningly easy to pull off. I did it for years. In the end it all came crashing down around me but I had a good run for my money. How many of us are the same? Donning a mask of convenience whenever and wherever it suits us. Living a lie in the shadows. Unwilling and unable to face reality and step out into the light. It is oh so easy to hide scars and wounds. But wounds need to be exposed to the fresh air in order to heal.

Are you ‘keeping up appearances’ today? Putting on a brave face? Playing to your audience while inside you are crumpling under the weight of anxiety and despair? Portraying yourself to the world as Mr. or Mrs. Respectability when in reality you are consumed by sin and self loathing? If you are, the good news is that you are not alone. The even better news is that there is a way out.

God sees us for who we really are. We can pull the wool over everybody else’s eyes but not His. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He wants us to be the people He created us to be. Some of you may be reading this nodding your heads in agreement. Others may be snorting derisively thinking what a load of nonsense. But don’t take my word for it. There are millions of us walking this earth today who would not be had we not accepted that we could not do it alone and realised we were sinking fast under the twin burdens of addiction and mental illness. Millions of us who were living a lie. Fronting up to the world while all the while dying on the inside. 

You can change. You can start again. You can be honest with yourself and others. Just give God a chance. After all he has given you countless chances. On the verge of giving up? Hand it over to him in a simple prayer and see what happens. Live the life you were born to live. What have you got to lose? Oh and by the way, United won 3-0. Thanks to my lucky mascot of a wife.

1 Samuel 16:7 – ‘For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

What colours do you sport when your favourite team are playing?

Does the world see the real you? Or just what you want it to see?

When did you last open your heart to God?

18 thoughts on “Football Crazy

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  1. I held in anger for years. Still felt like I had to please my parents instead of myself in my 20s. I was stuck in an verbally abusive marriage. I couldn’t just be me…I didn’t feel like I deserved it. One day the anger busted out of me and I attack a tree with a broomstick because I didn’t know how to accept it. God lead me to a therapist that was simply amazing. She was the first one that showed up on my list and I’m thankful for it. Secrets, bottled emotions, wearing masks, it all just builds inside of you and makes you sick physically and emotionally.

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  2. I was just talking to a friend last night about authenticity and how important it is. I used to try to hide my feelings and tell everyone that everything was ok when it really wasn’t. That failed. Spectacularly. Now, I try to be open and honest and must importantly – GENUINE with people about my feelings and my needs. Great post.

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  3. Sometimes, now, I am sure that some people avoid me because they get the real deal. Transparency has really set me free from the expectations of others and myself and helped me live as a real person in a real world!

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  4. yes yes yes. I will triple like that if I can. All true, well put. Though I am totally with your wife. 😉 Sport, duh! How well does it work for you though, being authentic? I get the feeling it scares most people. That you stand by who you are…

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  5. So much truth! I spent years pretending to be the good christian girl when necessary, when I was so the opposite. I guess it depended on who I was with at the time, and it’s scary knowing inside how easy it was to be someone different all the time. I wonder sometimes if I don’t isolate myself because of the fear that I will revert back to that way of thinking. Yikes.
    BTW, I grew up in Western New York and will always and forever be a Buffalo Bills fan. (They suck, if you’re wondering) But I proudly wear my bright pink Bills hat everywhere here in the enemy territory of the Miami Dolphins! I love when I get dirty looks!!

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  6. I’m scared to show the real me for some reason. There are only a few people in my life that have seen the real me. Although through my journey with my eating disorder and depression i am slowly learning to that i have to show the real me to more people. That way they can help me get to where i need to be in my life……..

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