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Annie Turner

Annie Turner
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guys Who Look Like Jesus

We have been deep in Copa Mundial territory at our house for the last--what was it?--two weeks? It seems longer, somehow. I could explain how my husband coached soccer for 5 years, how my two "kids" played on their school teams. How we would practice shooting on our gravely drive, setting up goal posts to kick between. But that wouldn't explain my intense devotion to the Copa Mundial: how Shakira's song ("It's Time for Africa," not the official title, of course) completely sets me dancing and thrills me (Yes! I could do that dance--with ibrupophen and several ice packs...); how all the cute, manly guys dashing out onto the field rest so easy on the eye; how the swift back and forth of the play is so compelling. And what in the world does this have to do with my faith journey, faith, or God, you may well be asking?
Well, here's a starter. As my daughter and I watched one of the countless games, I noticed that on many of the teams there seems to be a "guy who looks like Jesus." Or, how I imagine him to look: not too tall, lean and wiry, sporting a five o'clock shadow, having a stupendous nose, and wearing long hair held back by a head band. Really. These guys do look like Jesus. And somehow I root harder for them, will them to do better, and hope that they can save their team from defeat. Sometimes these guys do--sometimes they don't. And isn't that the point? Sometimes we are saved in the ways we THINK we should be saved, and other times we appear to not be saved at all.
I've been struck by the outward signs of faith in the Copa Mundial: guys crossing themselves as they either run onto the field or run off the field--hands clasped in prayer and eyes directed upwards, obviously praying for immediate divine help. I've also been struck by how emotional the guys are--how, when they lose, often a player will cover his face with his shirt, only to show eyes streaming tears when the shirt comes down. Then his teammates come over, give him immense hugs, and show how much they feel for him. I'd like to see a lot more of this kind of behavior in our culture, let me tell you. Not the losing part, but the free show of emotions and men hugging each other. Definitely a good thing.
So, where am I going with this? Beats me. All I can say is--I keep seeing these guys who look like Jesus and my heart lifts. They remind me of my heart's partner, of my soul companion. I, too, could be speeding around a soccer field (in your dreams, madam!) with Jesus at my side, ready to shoot a neat pass through someone's feet, ready to set me up at the goal so I could slap the ball in.
But I don't have to be on the soccer field to have this guy running at my side. All I have to do is show up every day, keep breathing, offer some prayers of gratitude, pet the dog, feed my amazing family, talk to friends, pray for Haiti, send some money, and hope I have the grace not to make an A-one ass out of myself in daily life. With my friend running beside me, hair held back in a band, maybe I can make it. Just maybe.