Linebacker Christianity: Since the NFL Didn’t Want Me

I wish I was a linebacker. People don’t mess with them.

If I was a linebacker, I could pause to chat with the guy standing outside of a bowling alley asking people to spare a cigarette. I could stop in my tracks, look him dead in the eye, and ask, “Hey man, everything alright? Anything going on that I could help with?”

But I’m not a linebacker. I’m 5’3″ when I get a nurse who’s generous with the measurements, while the average linebacker in the NFL is 6’0″. I’m 107 pounds when I have cookies for meals (which is more often than you might think), and linebackers average around 235 pounds. That’s over two of me. I’m a size 0 and they are…I don’t know. Size 400? Linebackers eat people like me for breakfast, along with raw eggs and gravel I’m pretty sure. The scariest I get is when someone tickles me and I start screaming through my giggles for them to “Stop that nonsense.”

Simply put, it’s frustrating that even when I want to be selfless and help someone, I still end up being selfish and having to think of my safety first. Many would say that’s not selfishness, that’s common sense, but I’m not completely sold on that. (Now here comes the part my parents will hate): I think Jesus was the type of guy who would stop anywhere, even if it was dangerous. We already know he hung out with the dirty, sick, and lowly. We already know he was extreme in trusting God for his provision and for miracles.

Not exactly linebacker gear, but roll with it. They're ready to fight.
Not exactly linebacker gear, but roll with it. They’re ready to fight.

It’s scary, but I want to do the dirty work. I want to love the people no one else cares to love. That’s exactly what Jesus did, and I can’t think of anyone better to imitate.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

                                         -Philippians 2:4

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him,                                      how does God’s love abide in him?”

                                        -1 John 3:17

You know the story of the Good Samaritan, right? From the time we were toddlers, we’ve been taught to shake our heads in disappointment and disagreement with how the the priest and Levite each passed him by, citing their own reasons (excuses) for why they couldn’t stop. Think of how flimsy our modern excuses must sound to God. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. He weeped with his friends. He let kids come near him when they were being turned away. There’s more to the Good Samaritan story than a man helping an “enemy” from a different town with a different bloodline. What if the Samaritan had justified not stopping because if the beaten man had been attacked and robbed, he might be too?

I was going to, Lord, but it didn’t feel right.

Of course I would’ve done something, God, if there had been street lights. 

I knew someone else would stop, Lord. 

If a farmer doesn’t work, the crop stays in the field. If a teacher doesn’t teach, nobody learns. If we don’t stop excusing ourselves from helping and serving, those who need help and service will always be present. It’s the simplest, most foundational way of the world that if you do nothing, nothing will change. I can’t change what I was born as (which, in fact, is not a linebacker), but I can change what I am doing and how I am living. You don’t need to weigh over 200 pounds to leave an impact.

If I assume correctly, more women than men will be able to relate to what I’m saying. This isn’t a wage gap/gender role/pro life-pro choice type of issue. This isn’t something legislation can change. It comes down to the fact that we’re all sinful, and because men are bigger and (generally speaking) biologically built stronger than women, their sins more often show up as abuse, rape, assault, and other horrible incidents that involve a man enforcing control over another woman or man.

Do you understand my anger now? It’s sickeningly frustrating to see a man who is obviously hurting and in need of finances, someone’s time of day, attention, love, resources, a helping hand, anything--and–sometimes for the simple fact that you were born a woman–you can’t do anything about it.

This is one of those pieces where I get to a certain point…

And I really don’t know what to tell you guys.

I don’t know what verse to share, or poignant sentence to type to wrap it all in a neat bow and present it to you. This is messy. This hurts. This is real. This is now. This is around you every day, whether you see it or not.

I guess to the men I would say please do what we cannot. For whatever reason, God made you with the strengths (metaphorically and literally) that he did. The same goes for sins and weaknesses. They are different than ours. Don’t abuse us. Don’t exploit us. And more specifically to what we’ve talked about here, help your fellow man. That’s all–just help your brother, guys. Sometimes the women feel like they can’t or shouldn’t do anything (just as you may sometimes feel when it comes to women who are hurting), and that is when you need to step up and do your job.

And to the women I would say don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Are there times when we can, should, and are required to step in and offer assistance to a man? Absolutely. And in the times when it’s not appropriate or safe, trust that God will bring the right people and resources together in time. Then support the men who are helping their fellow man. Recognize that just because you don’t hand a burger, or dollar, or address of a homeless shelter to someone, it does not mean you cannot or have not helped them. And in the times when you are discouraged because you feel like you can’t help a brother, help a sister.

There is no shortage of hurting people in this world, so don’t linger on those God hasn’t chosen for you to serve. That said, have a linebacker mentality. You’re not guarding a ball, you’re not a line of defense, you’re not pushing players around, but you are strong. Ridiculously strong. Strong enough to step out of your comfort zone. Strong enough to give a hand to the weak. Strong enough, maybe, to pick up a cross and follow in some footsteps that will lead you down paths you can’t see right now. But that doesn’t matter, because you’re a linebacker.

And people don’t mess with linebackers.

Before You Go
What do you think of “linebacker Christianity” ?
Is there someone in your life that has the qualities of a linebacker?
Are men and women really all that different when it comes to hurting and helping?
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