We slapped hands and hugged as loud as we wanted to. Technically, it was all one movement known as, “The Bro-Hug”. There are two variations of The Bro Hug, TBH, depending on: situation, time between seeing each other, and time allotted for the hug. The first variation of TBH is when you’ve seen each other recently, nothing drastic has happened, and you have to keep it moving somewhat quickly. Both participants approach each other as if they are about to swat a fly from in front of their face. Forearm at 90 degrees, paralleling their chest diagonally, and palm facing the opposite side of their body. When they get close enough each person’s forearm subtly turns their hand so that it faces them. The two then wrap their hand around the other’s thumb, pulling each other in by folding their forearms against their chest, and wrapping their free arm around the shoulder of their friend. Classic bro hug.
Now the second variation is reserved for moments when it’s been months, maybe years since you’ve seen someone, they’ve gotten great news like scholarship offers (academic or athletic), or getting engaged, and you have a moment or two to soak in the joy. When you get to TBH variation two, you’ll be in it for a minute. The only difference between the first and second variation is the hands don’t stay together. Instead when their hands meet they immediately bounce off one another like wrong sided magnets, accompanied by a thunderous clapping sound. Then there is a full frontal hug, that usually involves a little waddling from side to side.
Those are the two types of Bro Hugs, and this past weekend I was blessed enough to take part in both variations with different friends. If you saw me and a few of the guys walking past each other on the street you wouldn’t know that we were connected through self sacrifice, mutual understandings, and a common goal. You wouldn’t know about the blood that bound us. You wouldn’t know that we played, or coached together. But we did. And that connection holds tight months and years later.
A different kind of relationship forms when you spend time with someone day after day in unified pursuit of what you know you can’t obtain without the other individuals. A type of trust that is forged of necessity, and responsibility to those that depend on you. We all know what we’re there for, and the price we pay with pain, sleep deprivation, and social sacrifices pail in comparison to the thrill of success. If there was anyone in the group that didn’t desire to win, to push their limits, they were quickly weeded out. Everyone else came back time and time again, until they couldn’t. Our backgrounds didn’t matter: where we grew up, how many parents, skin color, education level, financial means. It was all periphery. They were there, we were aware, but like a great meal they all combined the varying flavors, and textures into a one of a kind feast with all it’s own spice. Bro hugging my brothers from another mother, with some different skin color reminded me that participation in sports is more than just for this world, it’s practicing a small part of the soon to be paradise.
The diversity and unity that we see on teams is a beautiful picture of what the Kingdom of God will be like when Christ returns. Much like athletes are united by the shedding of their own blood for the greater cause of team legacy, Christians are bound by the blood of Christ for the eternal cause of God’s glory resulting in our joy. Of all the parallels that sports provide, one that is most often overlooked can be noticed with the naked eye for those that are willing to see; and our country needs to gain true sight. There seem to be three characteristics that create this on teams. A common and compelling goal, willingness to personally sacrifice, and consistently working together. The vision forces us outside of ourselves, while the willingness to sacrifice personally allows preferences to be set aside while upholding convictions. Lastly, having to constantly and consistently be around each other and work through differences; forcing us to learn about reasons behind preferences, habits, or ways of thinking without being able to run away or ignore the situation. While teams illustrate Kingdom culture, we should all be learning lessons from the Kingdom on what, brings us together. The concepts of common goal, sacrifice, and consistency are all trademarks of Christianity, as is diversity. Reconnecting with people that the outside world would think we’d have nothing to do with doesn’t make me reminisce about Remember the Titans, it encourages me to think and move forward as a part of the team God has recruited to Himself:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes . . .” Revelation 7:9 ESV
And all God’s people said . . .