“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matthew 11:12
Conversation between myself and a friend on any given Super Bowl Sunday:
Friend: Which team are you rooting for?
Me: Da Bears!
Friend: But the Bears aren’t playing …
Me: Well, I’m not really a football fan, per se. I’m a Bears fan. So I’m always rooting for the Bears.
Friend: But the Bears aren’t playing. So … who are you are rooting for?
Me: Da Bears!
At this point, my friend usually shakes their head at me and gives up. But I am a die-hard fan of the Chicago Bears, specifically, the 1985 Bears team that won Super Bowl XX. Oh, yeah! When that Bears’ defense took possession of the ball and marched down the field, it usually resulted in points put on the board. There were some truly memorable moments from that team. Watching Walter Payton run the ball was like watching a gazelle – poetry in motion. Jim McMahon was a great quarterback AND he could take a hit! (But THAT Bears line tried very hard to make sure that didn’t happen too often.) Willie Gault was so handsome … maybe he didn’t always catch the ball but watching him run was a thing of beauty. And the Fridge – well, he may not be much now, but he supplied a lot of entertainment back then. (Let us not forget the tight ends, Amen!) Those Bears were fun to watch. They were hard workers and they didn’t give up.
Mike Ditka once said: In life you have two types of people. You have Grabowskis and then, there are Smiths. The implication was that the Grabowski type of personality was the kind of person who would go after things, no holds barred. Pummel life – just beat it into submission. And then, there are the Smiths. These are your more passive types of people. They just kind of let life happen to them, instead of making things happen. Mike Ditka’s Bears were Grabowskis. They played hurt. They played frozen. They played in miserable weather and got the job done. We knew we were about to win the Super Bowl when it began to snow – it was like a Christmas miracle. Because what was snow to Da Bears? Bear Weather! They were amazing. They were Grabowskis. Grrrrr.
Mike Ditka’s words turned out to be somewhat prophetic, as years later, the Bears current coach is aptly named Lovie Smith. I watched their Super Bowl appearance to cheer the Bears because I thought they were another incarnation of MY 1985 Bears. Boy, was I disappointed. Not just because we lost, but because they didn’t show any of the drive and determination that I believed was typical of MY Bears. At the risk of offending football aficionados everywhere (and I am no expert, to be sure), I saw a team of ballet dancing, tutu wearing, pansies. They cried when they were hurt and couldn’t play. The coaching was, sadly, poor. The quarterback, sadly, was bad. They failed to convert their plays into touchdowns. They wore the Bear uniforms but lacked the mentality – that Grrrrrrrrrabowski way of thinking – that was needed to get the job done. Who were these people? They were not MY Bears – they were Smiths.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
By now you’re wondering, what got me to thinking about Bears? I’ve been thinking lately of going into hibernation – you know, like real bears do. When I think of my own personal hibernation, it is a time for me to withdraw from the world and turn my attention inwards. Usually, there is a catalyst, some event that makes me think, “Wow – time to retreat and regroup!” Time to re-evaluate my way of doing things and figure out how I got to this point. Time to reflect and redirect myself if I’ve gotten off track. Failed relationships, romantically or otherwise, typically drive me into hibernation. After you get it wrong enough times, you begin to see the problem may not be the other person. So I need time to think about where I messed up and where I can improve.
But I read a comment the other day that got me thinking: What is really going on when a bear goes into hibernation? Do they hibernate just so they can catch up on their sleep? (LOL!) Bears spend the summer and fall packing on pounds to get them through the winter. The extra weight is just for sustenance – it’s needed. When they come out of their hibernation period, they are leaner – they’ve dropped what they no longer need. Something that female bears do specifically during this time is create. While their body is sleeping, it’s also actively working on the next phase in their lives. When they finally emerge, you may see a cub or two at their side. And whether the bear is male or female, they’re hungry.
So this time, as I enter into hibernation, I’m not going there to lick my wounds but to grow and to create. I’m going there to drop some things that worked for a time, but now, I find I no longer need. I’m going there to spend some time alone, to rejuvenate and to be healed. I have some things that I need, that I want to accomplish in my life that’s going to take some planning and dedication. I have goals that I want to reach – setting them is kinda what I do, LOL! I will use this time to refocus and repurpose my life. And like the bear, when I am done, I will be ferociously HUNGRY. I want to meet the obligations I have set for myself.
I will not only be like the bear, I will be like Da Bears in my mentality. I will attack every goal I have set, like it is a first down, marching ever across that field until I reach my goal. I won’t be satisfied until that ball sails through the posts and I can yell: TOUCHDOWN! YEAH BABY! Then I’ll do my little victory dance – maybe part cabbage patch, part running man. I will approach my goal with single minded determination to persevere and succeed, no matter the obstacle thrown in my path. I will not give up because I am a Bear – 1985, Super Bowl XX Champion Chicago Bear, to be exact – and a Grabowski. I’m not giving up. I’m not stopping. Grrrrr….