I stomped my foot. It just didn’t make sense to me, really. If my best friend is wearing her cheerleader uniform to the game, why could I not wear mine? I knew it was considered acceptable attire for our age demographic(we were five), and even at that age, I felt like I understood the importance of tailgate fashion. It’s not like they were exactly alike. I mean, come on, hers was orange and mine was garnet. I can only imagine the frustration of my parents as they tried to explain why wearing my garnet and black skirted dress was not the most appropriate attire for attending a Clemson football game in Death Valley verses a completely different team. I gave up rather quickly on my cause since spending the day with my friend was the most exciting thing ever, and well, the whole idea of people not liking each other just because they wore different colors was just too puzzling.
It all became very clear, though, how two colors, could be so polarizing by the time I reached elementary school. Concord Elementary was a safe haven for Clemson Tigers, but it was a risky move for a first grader to wear Carolina colors on Spirit Day—even if it was a cool vintage Cocky shirt. The understanding of supporting your school and cheering on your team began to take shape in my mind, although the rules and stats of the game of football have never quite stuck. I loved growing up in my Gamecock family and seeing my dad get so excited when his team would win. Perhaps most fascinating was my younger cousin’s interest and love of football. Even as a little girl, she and my dad could talk football stats, predictions, and players. My mom, though, would get most of my attention regarding Carolina football. I loved hearing about how they did it “back in the day”: ‘dressed to the nines and corsages for the girls from their beaus every game!’
I sat in my freshman dorm room with my purple cordless phone in hand trying to devise the best way to inform my parents I had told the dean of my liberal arts college I was not returning there for my sophomore year. I couldn’t just call home and say that I was dropping out of school. But it was April, and most all colleges had closed their admissions for fall semester. I put the phone down and pulled up my AOL instant messenger. I will tell the parental units later. For now, I will procrastinate with seven IM chats. My focus shifted from messaging my crush, whose screen name I still remember, when my friend sent me a chat saying Clemson University was still accepting applications online. Yes. This will do. Somehow. I went to the website. I had never filled out much of anything online, and I had definitely never filled out a college application online. I went to work on it, completed it, and submitted it to the mysterious world wide web.
I had a plan. Sort of. I would go to Clemson for a semester until I figured out my next step. I mean, I was not going to be a Tiger. Or was I? My sweet Gamecock dad never had anything but support for me. His love for his Gamecocks never wavered, but neither did his love for me. Within weeks of being on Clemson’s campus, I knew I had found my ‘home.’ Not my forever home, but the ‘home’ that would nurture my soul as I tried out life as a “quasi-adult.” I gave away more student football tickets than I used, but it was there that I began to discover who I was, who I was becoming, and who I could be. It was a short but important time. The difference in the path of my twenties verses that of my parents was more than just garnet and orange. But all the while, my father supported my ventures, twists, and turns. He listened as I talked to him about God, church, and politics. He let me wrestle, question, and pause, but was always there for counsel, wisdom, and love. He respected my ‘orange’, and I valued his ‘garnet.’
On Saturday, I headed back to that ‘home’ to see the biggest game of the season. I scrolled through my social media news feed, disgusted by the negativity and trash talk from both sides. Obnoxious, really. Classless and ignorant. I do not want to live a life that is marked by division and misunderstanding. I think God is actually much more interested in our likeness anyway. We all may have been wearing different colors, but gosh, friends, we are all the same. And to be completely transparent, what most connects the Gamecocks and the Tigers is sin. We are all alike in that. As we look to Christmas, in the season of Advent, may we be reminded that our true salvation and WIN comes from God sending us His only Son. May we reflect Jesus, the Son, in our daily lives. It is He who makes it possible for us ALL to be heirs to the Kingdom. “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)
(Photo information: I finally did reconcile the garnet vs. orange fashion battle of my youth. Proudly wore my alma mater’s colors to the game, but Daddy’s garnet pocket square close to my heart. For we all know, He is the one who is in true VICTORY!)