I can’t count the number of times that I’ve read that statement over the last 18 hours.
“It’s just a game.”
You’re right. It’s just a game. It’s just two groups of men, knocking each other around, running the ball (or not), throwing the ball, catching the ball (or not), all in hopes of winning a game. A game.
I’m not playing the game. I don’t even personally know the people who are playing the game. You’re right. It’s just a game.
So, what do I do with these feelings that I’ve been told I’m unjustified in feeling?
Did you know that’s what you’re telling me when you say, “It’s just a game”?
What “It’s just a game” really means is, “I have deemed your disappointment, sadness, frustration as unworthy. I have cast judgment on your feelings and found them lacking validity.”
I suppose the argument could be made that “it’s just a game” is a completely accurate statement. You and I could sit down and make a list of all the reasons why my feelings are unmerited.
Of course, if we wanted to, we could use the same exercise to undermine all feelings, couldn’t we?
“I know you’re disappointed that the concert you’ve been waiting to watch for a year got cancelled at the last minute, but it’s just entertainment.”
“I know you’re frustrated and upset that you’re snowed in at the airport and can’t get to your vacation destination, but it’s just a trip.”
“I know you’re unhappy that the political candidate you voted for didn’t win, but it’s just an election.”
It would be easy to make all sorts of arguments as to why these situations aren’t significant in the overall scheme of life that would be technically accurate.
However, when we start making ourselves arbiter of the feelings of others, where’s the line?
“I know you’re upset that you didn’t get the job you wanted, but at least you have one.”
“I know you’re mad that your friend betrayed you, but at least now you know.”
“I know you’re hurt that your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you, but at least you weren’t married, it’s not like a divorce.”
“I know you’re devastated that you miscarried, but at least you have 2 other kids. And it’s not like you were that far along.”
I see this even with more serious situations like illness, financial crises, death of loved ones. Maybe it’s our own messed up way of dealing with the uncomfortable nature of facing each other’s feelings.
“It’s not like…”
These innocuous-sounding sentence starters actually have a pretty significant impact on the one who’s on the receiving end of them.
Under the guise of “lending perspective,” these statements tell each other, “you aren’t entitled to feel what you’re feeling.” Maybe they say, “you aren’t entitled to feel what you’re feeling as much as you do,” or “you aren’t entitled to feel what you are feeling for as long as you have been feeling them.”
The reality is, yes, it’s just a game.
The sun still came up today (or so I believe, because all I see is rain and clouds, but since it’s no longer night, I’ll assume it did.)
My husband went to work as he does every Monday morning.
My kids went to school as usual. (And by usual I mean Parker is wearing unmatched socks)
Life goes on.
But even with seemingly insignificant losses in the grand view of life and eternity, there are feelings.
I’m sad today.
I have a sense of grief over what could have been, what almost was.
I mourn the end of an inspiring season that seemed destined, and, at times, miraculous.
I’ve loved the unity in our community, the fight against all odds, the striving towards a glorious finish.
When hopes are dashed in the end, it’s inevitable that feelings will be a part of that experience. If there are no feelings, there was no connection. If there are no feelings, what was the point in watching at all?
“The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.”
That statement isn’t just about the individuals who are participating, it’s also for those who have invested their time, their money, even emotionally investing themselves.
I was emotionally invested. I am emotionally invested. Today my heart is a little broken. I don’t need or want anyone to give me perspective today.
Today I get to feel what I feel.
I would apologize for feeling a way that you might think is silly, small-minded or self-indulgent, but I’m not sorry.
I still love my team, I love my city, and I love my Seahawks community. I do believe that adversity builds strength, and I believe the future remains bright.
The outcome of a sporting event doesn’t alter my life in a dramatic fashion, and tomorrow the sting will lessen.
But please know this:
I get to feel what I feel.
I’d appreciate the opportunity to process my feelings without scorn or derision.
I’m sure you’d want the same consideration for your own feelings, regardless of my opinion of their validity, right?