I’m a Denver Bronco fan. If ever my loyalty or fan status comes into question, I scooch down my jeans and reveal the Bronco tattoo on my hip. This does the trick. I had an incredible moment as a fan as I was making my way to my seat for the September 5th game against the Ravens. I found myself in a sea of orange and blue; everywhere I looked fans were sporting Bronco gear. I felt a kinship and a love well up inside of me. I had the thought, “these are my people! I’m so in love.” Then I had another thought, “This must be how God sees the world, all fans on the same team.”

I began to ponder the idea of all of us being on the same team. What would be possible if I viewed everyone on the planet with the same loving I view my fellow Bronco fans? By simply wearing orange and blue I am greeted with high fives, hugs, cheers, and a sense of belonging. There is nothing required of me, simply being a fan is enough– I’m in, I’m accepted. What if I accepted others with nothing required? If being human was enough– you’re in, you’re accepted. What would the world be like if we all accepted each other as part of the same team?

I took this idea to heart and began a practice of unconditional loving. It was more challenging than I realized. I found myself in judgment fairly often. I judged Raiders fans, slow drivers, people who cut in line, people who failed to keep their word with me, people who didn’t pick up their dog’s poop, etc. I was challenged to stay in my loving and stand up for myself and my values. I began to see that loving comes in multiple forms.

I realized that telling someone, “I’m sorry. I’m not able to match what you are contributing to this friendship,” was being incredibly loving and honoring. Saying yes to spending time with them when it was a no for me was not being honest or loving. I began to see that I could love and honor myself by being honest and stay in my loving with others. This actually was a deeper level of loving.

I’m not unconditionally loving 100% of the time. When I notice myself in judgment I use it as an opportunity to go within myself and heal the hurt inside of me that’s reacting to this person. Judgments are a mirror for me reflecting back the areas where I am not unconditionally loving myself. For me, most of my judgments occur when I have placed an individual on a pedestal and made the judgment that they are better than I am (their team is better than my team). I am the one making up that they are better than I am and then I get mad at them for it! The upset comes in judging myself as not good enough, or less than. I forgive myself for this judgment and the upset is resolved; I’m back in my loving.

In viewing the world through God’s eyes, that we are all on the same team, I find that I experience loving, compassion, acceptance, and joy A LOT more of the time. It’s a process of mastery and what matters for me is that I continue showing up to practice. So here’s to the 12th man, the fan, and to seeing everyone as a fan of the same team.