Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Roman 5:3-5

My family and I watched the Super Bowl last night from the Green Lake neighborhood in Seattle: right in the heart of Seahawks country. My husband and I gathered with his two brothers, their beautiful girls, my sisters, and dear friends. A man MUST BE with his brothers for the Super Bowl, if you know what I mean.

I spent the night chasing after our boys so that Jack could enjoy the game (something I have come to understand is part of loving him). But, as I came and went, usually pulled back into the living room by the next round of cheers, I noticed something remarkable: Jack’s smile grew every time I came in the room. By the end of the night, his incredulous grin threatened to crack his face. Even though he smiles every day, this new “I can’t believe we just won the Superbowl” seemed wonderfully different.

We left earlier than he wanted to, due to a sobbing preschooler suffering from a tummy ache which was completely unrelated to the massive quantity of Skittles he ate during the game. We left while the guys were still outside smoking victory cigars, drunk with a dazed joy punctuated by fireworks and cheers erupting all around us. I felt bad for Jack. I wanted to bottle that grin, or at least let him keep it for a few more hours.

But when we awoke this morning, the grin was still there. And while I admired this new look my husband was sporting, I realized this is hope, Lord, isn’t it? Ah, yeah. HOPE. That’s Emily Dickinson’s thing, right? Some bird perching in the soul?

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen that look on Jack. Life’s been hard, and after a few good knocks, it’s easy to let that little Emily Dickinson bird just fly away. Football’s the same way: after a few devastating plays, especially in the game that really matters, it’s almost impossible to recover.

But, every once in a while, the bird comes back. She circles above us and we dare to dream. Sometimes the impossible happens, and even when we are so defeated in life that we can’t even dare to ask for it, WE GET A WIN.

I know it’s just a football game. But it’s never just a football game or a job or a diagnosis or a friendship. Our hopes and dreams tangle into who we are as people and what we believe is possible.

In the movie Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg and Elizabeth Banks, Vince Papale’s father explains what these kinds of wins can do for our hearts:

You know how I used to tell you about Van Buren scoring that touchdown in ’48? . . . That touchdown got me through 30 years at that factory. Got me through all those times your mom was sick. When I told you not to get your hopes up . . . didn’t mean that I wasn’t.

So, as hope flutters around your heart (or 12th man pride threatens to burst it!), think about opening the door and giving her perch back. Life is so hard, but you never know when you’re gonna get a win. Ask the Seahawks and their 12th man.