Imagine yourself standing on the home plate of a softball field. The pitcher is winding up to throw the ball and, suddenly, he throws the ball, only this time directly at your head! You duck and fortunately, you avoid getting hit. Now, imagine you are in the major league. The pitcher gets prepared, begins his initial pitch and, an almost 100 MPH curveball is headed directly for your head. A bean ball as they call it. Only this time, you don’t see it in time to duck and you get hit…hard, painfully hard. Knocked out hard.
Life is not fair. The sooner we understand that, the better we learn to cope with the surprises that come our way. Unfortunately, bad things do happen to good people. We see things coming our way early in life, minor things, and are able to maneuver our way around them. Then, life throws us a bean ball. Without notice in one day the life we once knew changes. We didn’t see the bean ball coming, and now we are injured, brought to our knees, walking around wounded, limping and wondering what just happened. Walking with a “limp” comes after being stripped and broken from all the previous things in life that seemed to matter…but don’t. When you get hit, without a chance to duck and deflect, you become vulnerable. Most people equate vulnerability with weakness; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Vulnerability is realness, exposure, being naked before the world. I don’t like naked, and you probably don’t either but, when we understand that vulnerability can be defined as courage and truth, it changes how our view. During my travels and speaking in different places, I have seen some truly good communicators. They laid it all out there in a vulnerable and naked way. Ask yourself the following question, “Do you think that it takes courage to tell the truth regardless of the ramifications?” Is that weakness? Obviously not. I pray every day for humbleness (no pun intended) and the courage to speak truth without any spiritual or emotional clothing. Complete nakedness.
Being stripped and broken creates a feeling of nakedness. This can lead to positive or negative endings, depending on how you handle the situation. For me, it was a time to reaffirm my purpose, reflect on my past, and reshape my life for the future.
There are two other emotions altogether different that affect us when something happens that threatens our reputation and perceived integrity. These emotions are embarrassment and shame. My test in life created a lot of both. There was a time when I was embarrassed and shameful. Even worse, for a time, I lost hope.
Years ago there was a movie in which a man was wrongly accused, found guilty and placed in a maximum-security prison. He later realized that the dallasistration was corrupt, and he wasn’t going to get out, at least not in his lifetime. So, he decided to escape. After much planning and preparation, it was time for the big move. The way out was through a tunnel that was actually the prison’s sewage system, comprised of disgusting human waste with rodents infiltrating the escape path. Seeking freedom at all expense, he crawled through the tunnel, trying to hold his breath as long as possible and vomiting multiple times along the way. And, it was dark. The kind of dark that you can’t see you hand in front of your face. Once in, there was no turning back, for if he did, he would surely die at the hands of the prison guards. After traveling through the tunnel for a period of time, his commitment to going all the way was non-negotiable. He continued smelling the filth all the way until finally he saw light. He crawled until he reached the end of that tunnel where he could see the light and fell out into a river of running water, washing off and finally finding the freedom he was pursuing.
Does that story sound familiar to you? We want to pursue something meaningful in life, but we are afraid. Finally, we make a decision that allows no option except to jump in feet first only it isn’t what we expected. Things are different, not going our way, but we are so far in we can’t turn back. Friends, this is where the rubber meets the road. We either continue forward or stop dead in our tracks and stagnate in the filth and disgust of self-pity from quitting our journey.
No matter where you are, what you are going through or where you have been, you can experience true joy in your life. Doctrine and religion can’t save us; the world has enough laws and rules. Religion has “answers” for every problem with few, if any, lasting results. We can search and search for that acceptance, but we will find it nowhere until we realize just how much each of us is cherished by a loving God. Only His grace covers us and is sufficient no matter what circumstances we are facing.
Remaining humble in life is difficult not because we are special in some way. The difficulty comes in the fact that humility is the direct opposite of arrogance, and this world does its best to convince us that we don’t need anyone…that we can go at it all alone.
The truth is, none of us can go at it alone. Show me a turtle on a fence post, and you can rest assured that someone put it there. No matter who we are or how great our accomplishments may be, we are simply a piece of a much bigger and more meaningful puzzle. If you are bearing a cross from a past mistake realize you are not damaged goods. You were created in the image of an Almighty God who loves you and believes in you. You past is behind you, it’s over. Your future lies ahead. You are not damaged goods. Remember, it’s not how you started that matters, it’s how you finish. Stay focused and finish strong!