Couldn’t Care Less
As part of the team that wrote the Spirit of a Forester language in 2019, Nicole is sharing the heart behind each of the seven Forester traits and their practical applications. Today’s trait: Foresters Care Completely
Growing up in Ohio, I witnessed firsthand what is arguably the most significant source of Buckeye pride: the Ohio State University vs. University of Michigan football game. Public schools and church youth groups heralded the annual event with “wear your team colors” spirit days. Officially, it didn’t matter which team you represented, but the outnumbered Michigan fans took plenty of good-natured teasing.
Year after year, I had a problem. I couldn’t care less about football rivalries, but to my friends on both sides of the field, the outcome of the game was VERY important. Whether I wanted to be or not, I was in the middle of a contest.
To solve this problem, I had a few options:
Learn to like football
Pretend to support OSU or Michigan and risk annoying friends with my choice
Remain neutral but lose the opportunity to participate with my peers
Ultimately, this was a low-stakes decision. Would it be a that bad for me to learn to like football? No. Would I be a terrible person if I wore scarlet or maize just to get some spirit points? Not really. Would my friends be annoyed with me? Maybe, but they’d get over it.
Although American football is a cultural phenomenon, I’m not required to care about it. In a situation like mine, what does it mean to “care completely” like a Forester?
For lighthearted decisions and for the heavier stuff, we have choices to make. So what should we care about? The definition of the “cares completely” Forester trait and the verse associated with it, Romans 12:10, offer clues:
Care about serving others: We should “outdo one another in showing honor,” caring more about Christ-like servant leadership than our own glory.
Care about forming relationships: We “love one another with brotherly affection” because relationship is at the heart of a Christian life. No one is an island!
Care about growth: We meet others where they are but also encourage them to grow in God-honoring ways. Intentional growth is vital to a healthy Forest.
In my football scenario, “caring completely” could look like this:
I care about my friends’ interests: Even if I do not share their level of passion, I share in their joy when they win and stand by them when they are disappointed that they’ve lost.
I make authentic connections: Rather than trying to pick a side, I recognize that my friendships are about more than supporting the same football team. I celebrate our similarities and our differences, not just one or the other.
I grow: I may never care much about football. But when opportunities come up to watch a game with friends, I’ll be there. Otherwise, I miss out on the chance to see the world through their eyes, even for a few hours.
Most decisions in life are not either/or. Your choices are not always going to simple like Michigan or Ohio State. Blue or scarlet. To care or not to care. Most decisions are going to be something in between. “Caring completely” doesn’t mean that you have to accept something wholeheartedly — there can be nuance, things you like and things you don’t. The point is that you care about serving others, forming relationships, and growing through the process.
Eventually, I found my football middle ground. I painted a t-shirt with the Michigan and OSU logos side by side with the word “Whatever” underneath. I participated in spirit days without committing to either team and kept my friendships intact, but it did get me a few eye rolls from people who couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t PICK ONE.
I didn’t really care. I was too busy submitting my application to Huntington University.