Hey y’all and happy weekend! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And no, I’m not three months late or nine months early for Christmas. However, the first weekend of March Madness is pretty much like Christmas for me. If you don’t follow college basketball, March Madness is the post-season NCAA tournament that spans over three weekends to determine the national champion. During the first weekend of the tournament, there’s literally non-stop basketball games on TV from noon to midnight, Thursday-Sunday. Therefore, I’m basically in heaven spending my entire weekend on the couch watching basketball. During every March Madness game, each team has the same goal: survive & advance. If you win (survive), you move on to the next round of play and your dream of being National Champion is still alive. However, if you lose, your season is over and you head home.
One reason why I love sports is that they can actually teach us some valuable life lessons. So, here a few things I’ve been reflecting upon during this most wonderful time of the year.
Survive & Advance
The road to the Final Four (that’s the final weekend of the tournament when only four of the original 64 teams are left standing) isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, although unintentionally, a team’s performance might be sloppy. Shots might roll off the rim, players may make careless mistakes, etc. Yet somehow, it’s still good enough to beat the other team and advance to the next round. Rather than beat themselves up over all the mistakes they made, the team needs to dust themselves off, learn from their mistakes, and look ahead to the next game. In March Madness, the competition gets tougher with each round, so it’s imperative not to dwell on everything that went wrong, restart with a clean slate, and hopefully play cleaner basketball.
Similarly, in life, some days feel a lot like “survive and advance.” Although we shouldn’t aim to merely get by, the reality is we live in a fallen world, and some days simply aren’t pretty! On days when my clinical anxiety flares up, simply getting through the day can feel like a huge accomplishment. Fortunately, God’s grace is sufficient for those days when I simply “survive and advance.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) And I don’t have to dwell on the mistakes I made the previous day, because the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) I can put past mistakes behind me, and focus on the tasks He has called me to each new day. This is definitely easier said than done!
In addition, when I’ve had a “survive and advance” kind of day, I think about Scarlett O’Hara’s famous words at the end of Gone With the Wind. The book concludes with the line “after all tomorrow is another day.” This is the best final line of any novel in American literature!
A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance
Whenever I watch March Madness, the juxtaposition of emotions at the end of a game is one of the things that sticks out to me the most. One one side of the court, you see the bench of the winning team dancing for joy. They are elated their dream of becoming national champions is alive for one more round. However, on the other side of the court, you see the bench of the losing team entrenched in mourning. They often have their head buried in their knees, and covered up with a towel. Their season has come to and end. And for the seniors on the team, their college career has come to an end.
I find it really striking how such differing emotions can coexist under the same roof during March Madness. It reminds me how this side of eternity, there will always be “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) And while we may experience a season of weeping followed by a season of laughter, weeping and laughter and mourning and dancing can also coexist within the same season of our respective lives. Thankfully one day Jesus will return and “he will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Embrace the Madness
So now that I’ve shared a couple reflections on how March Madness relates to life, I want to end this post on a lighter note by sharing my new favorite March Madness tee. I am loving this Carolina blue graphic shirt from Team LJ (Lauren James’ collegiate line). Since it’s not an officially licensed product, it doesn’t actually say UNC anywhere on it. But it’s still perfect to wear while cheering on my Tar Heels doing March Madness. My headband is from Headbands for Hope, an NC-based company I recently discovered. For every headband sold, they donate a headband to a child with cancer. How sweet is that? Finally, I like to accessorize my graphic tees with a dainty pendant necklace and stud earrings.
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Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a lovely weekend! Are you a March Madness fan? How is your bracket doing, and who did you pick to win it all?