Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I was a state champion (it's the truth and it's a lie)

Embellishment and omission are the presentable cousins of the bald-faced lie.  We dress them up and take them out and show them to our friends sometimes.  These cousins, if we allow, make us into someone we're not.  We're not sure we like who we are, so sometimes we pretend we're someone we're not.  Wouldn't it be easier to be comfortable in our own breeches?  

I was a state champion. It happened in 1984 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I was a decent racquetball player.  I won three university intramural men's singles championships, and one in doubles.  The state championship that year was held in Tulsa and I won.  I've got the dusty Oklahoma-shaped trophy to prove it.
OK.  Here's where I'd like to end my post, but if I did, I'd be dragging out a cousin or two myself.

Truth be told, I did win the state championship, but with the important qualifier that it was in the men's D bracket. Players selected 1 of 5 brackets.  The Open bracket was reserved for players of the highest caliber.  Not professionals, but any amateur that played at the very highest level nationwide.  A, B, C, D were the other brackets.  The A players were athletes that

played sports collegiately or at least could have.  The B, C, and D brackets represented different levels of ability and effort.  When I look back at winning the "D" state championship, I believe I gave 95% effort, and had 75% of the skill of other players at my level.  I only say this, because the time-honored cliche, "I gave 110%," is just another cousin.  I won a tournament or two at the "C" level, but only when some of the best players did not compete. I played close to the highest level for my ability, but not in a million years could I have ever won an Open, A or B tournament.

So if I was to just tell you, "I won the 1984 Oklahoma racquetball state championship," you would be left to figure out what that meant.  You might look at me and wonder how a skinny beanpole could have done that, or you might admire me for what I had done, even if I really hadn't done it at the level you thought.   Without the important qualifier, what you conclude established the level of my lying.  Yep, that's what it is.  The failure to speak accurately is no better than a lie.

Now, all that being said, wouldn't it just be easier to represent ourselves accurately to everyone we meet?  Wouldn't it be easier to interview if our resumes didn't embellish what we've actually accomplished?  Apart from trusting Christ as Your savior, the most important thing you will ever do is to have a realistic and accurate self appraisal of who you are.  Let me give you an example.

Lelisa Desisa won the 2015 Boston Marathon.He is a marathoner of the highest order, capable of a world record in the near future.  His time was 2:09:17 or about 129 minutes.  A marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards, or 26.22 miles.  His average pace for the entire marathon held in Boston was 4 minutes, 55 seconds per mile.  Other marathons have been run at a pace under 4 minutes, 50 seconds per mile.  That should cause mere mortals to pause.

I'm no athlete.  The best mile I've ever run in my life was slightly less than 6 minutes.  And that was just one mile.  I was exhausted when I was done.  I could train until the year 2525 and I could never match Desisa's feat this year at Boston.

I have never dunked a basketball, I've never hit a home run over a fence, I've never made tacklers miss.  I've never made a hole-in-one, but I have made two or three eagles.  I'm aging quickly and my back hurts most the time.  But I enjoy competition.  I like pickup basketball, I like tennis, soccer, and jogging from time to time.  For all these, the key is..I compete with those near or at my own talent level.  I don't try to pretend that I'm someone I'm not.

And that my friends is the one of the keys to being happy.  You certainly don't have to be content with what you've done , but you really need to be content with you are.  To be fulfilled in Christ means to trust that He made you exactly like He wanted you to be.

So if we're equipped with perspective, sometimes we still may tend towards despair.  Your spirals may not be Bradyesque, your jump shot is probably not Jordan-like, and your stride is not worthy of Desisa.  Even with the immense distance between ourselves and the very best in these pursuits, I can tell you something very important.  You can be the very best at something that matters most.

In our lives, if we pray diligently, God will present moments to us that are divine.  Bill Bright used to say, "Thirty seconds alone with anyone is a divine appointment."  In His perfect way, you will find yourself in encounters with people you may have just met or may have known for years.  In those moments, with his prompting, you are the perfect person to show God's love to them.  Better yet, take a risk and explain that the depth of God's love is Jesus Christ. Ask for just a minute to share your story.  At this moment, this perfect, beautiful moment, you are the very best in the world to accomplish this task.  God has picked you over all the others to communicate His truth.  You're a world-class athlete for Jesus.  

So today, lace up your Asics and get going.