Yesterday was a day I knew would come, but had avoided in my head. I’ve seen it in the distance for a couple of years now. As time went by it inched ever closer to reality, and try as I might, my denial couldn’t stop the inevitability of the truth.
I started my weekend by laying out my giant Steelers logo on my lawn. We had a big playoff game to play on Sunday. I say “we” because I feel like I am part of them. For almost as long as I can remember I’ve been a fan of the Steelers. Through thick and thin, it’s always been “we”.
Sunday morning, as I got dressed for church, I reached into the closet and pulled out my #43 Polomalu jersey. “My” Steelers were set to play my pastor’s Chiefs in a playoff matchup that seemed highly doubtful went the sun came up last week. But as they say, on any given Sunday any team can win and “we” squeaked into the playoffs.
I had my doubts; this same pairing found us licking “our” wounds after a thrashing just three weeks ago, but you know, on any given Sunday. I wore my gear proudly as I took verbal jabs from the pulpit. Head held high I dutifully tuned in for the evening game. And after a scoreless first quarter I began to think that “we” really might pull of the stunning upset.
After “our” defense created a touchdown my head began to imagine a dramatic playoff run for “our” outgoing hero quarterback. If “we” can just win this game, “we” are destined to go all the way, right?
Then denial does what it always does: it got found out by the truth. “Our” defensive score only helped to wake the sleeping giant. Before I knew it “we” gave up 28 unanswered points. It was brutal. It was ugly. I wanted to turn it off, but I always stick it out until the end. This was my last chance to watch Big Ben Roethlesberger play.
My wife could feel my sadness as the clock wound down. All the hopes for miracles and glory faded with each ensuing second on the clock. Even the great Al Michaels, who famously called the Miracle on Ice hockey game over 40 years ago couldn’t give me what I wanted.
Reality > Denial.
So what do you do after a crushing defeat? you pick up the pieces and move on. I sent a text of congratulations to my pastor and I asked my wife what to watch next and within minutes we were laughing out loud at an episode of Psych! I didn’t forget the loss. I didn’t pretend “we” had won. I didn’t pout and sulk. I just remembered that it was “my” decision to…