Good morning, all.
Back in the late 70’s I had the opportunity to go to the New York State Fairgrounds and watch some races. There was a motorcycle race, a Modified race, and a snowmobile race.
I am sorry to say, I was not impressed.
That is why, when my husband was given tickets for the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen, I did not want to go. In fact, I pouted during the whole 3 hour drive to get there.
But, when we got there, I began to fall in love.
Now, I have 4 older brothers, all of whom had an obsession with cars growing up. That is not to say that I really learned anything about cars, but I did gain an appreciation for the Muscle car — from the aesthetics of paint, chrome and mag wheels to the deep, throaty roar of all that horsepower.
One close up look at those brightly colored racecars and it took me back to days of pencil drawings of Corvettes, Camaros, ’57 Chevies and Chevy IIs colored with flames of fire and tacked on the boys’ bedroom walls.
And when they were given the command to start engines and the deafening roar of 43 racecars revving up filled the air, I was hooked. All that noise was music to my ears.
I knew absolutely nothing about NASCAR; had never watched a race on TV. I remember my dad watching every once in a while on a Sunday afternoon; but his normal viewing was of football, baseball or basketball.
There was one driver, however, that I had heard of enough to know he was a Christian that talked freely of his faith. A couple family members were fans of his and so I decided he was the one that I was going to follow.
I did not realize at that point that Jeff Gordon was basically public enemy #1 when it came to NASCAR fans; and I could not understand when the entire crowd booed him at the beginning of the race.
I won’t go into my thoughts on the reasons for their dislike, just say that there were some vicious rumors out there, none of which were true to my knowledge. The worst of those rumors was started as a joke by the favored driver that Jeff’s haters took and ran with, turning it into a widely believed lie.
Even now, I know of people that refuse to let go of that lie because the clean-shaven kid from California had the audacity to come into NASCAR and beat their driver.
Anyway, as my husband used to say, that race created a monster. I watched and recorded every show on TV that I could find about the sport, trying to learn as much as I could.
And during that viewing, I grew to like Jeff more and more. He spoke openly about his faith in God, his relationship to Jesus Christ. He even had his testimony posted on his website.
It was only after I had really developed a liking for the guy that things fell apart.
A couple years after that first race, news came out that Jeff’s wife had filed for divorce due to his infidelity.
I was devastated.
I think the reason his actions hurt me so badly was because I had been through the same thing only a few years earlier and could not understand how he could put his wife through what I had been through while talking about his faith.
He was supposed to be a Christian. He was supposed to know that adultery was wrong. He was supposed to be above that type of behavior.
I had essentially put him on a pedestal in my thinking and then discovered he actually was human just like the rest of us.
As I dealt with the news, I began to hear the rumors about his personal life, especially the one that was started as a joke. And with each rumor, I began to ask God how I was supposed to react.
If the rumors were true, I was going to turn my back on him and stop supporting him. I remember one day standing in our spare room, the room where I kept all of my Gordon memorabilia, telling myself that if he was the person people were saying, I would throw away all the things that filled the shelves.
It would mean a lot of money down the drain. Not so much my money as that of the people that had bought me most of what I had. But I talked to those people, and they agreed with me, that if he was the type of person everyone said, I should get rid of the things.
I was angry and felt like I had been betrayed. It was like reliving my past personal pain all over again. And that anger and feeling of betrayal turned quickly into judgment.
Every little act of aggression he made during a race, I would think; “Well, there you have it. I won’t support him anymore if that is the way he is going to be.” And when other drivers would retaliate, or wreck him, I would think, “Serves you right.”
Ahhh…not very Christ-like or loving, right?
And so started my lessons in understanding and forgiveness.
I’ll tell you about those in my next post.
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012