Friday, October 2, 2009

We've All Got Stuff!

So, last night I’m sitting at home, snuggling with Rudy on the couch, watching Survivor, surfing the web and keeping my phone handy just in case an important text message or Twitter Tweet Thingy comes through. (This is pretty much the same thing I do every evening ‘cuz that’s just how boring my life is.)

My phone “dings” and I look down to see a tweet that announces UO coach Chip Kelly might reinstate suspended running back LeGarrette Blount! Over the next few minutes I get a few more tweets saying the same thing.

And, when I go on Facebook, I see that one of my FB friends, Ryan (famed sports announcer who works with me at U.S. Bank) has posted about it and said, “I’m hoping it’s just a rumor . . .” Me too! I thought Chip Kelly did the right thing the first time. I can’t imagine what he can say that will make me feel any different.

And now, this morning, the rumor became official with the announcement that Chip Kelly says there is “potential opportunity for senior running back LeGarrette Blount to be allowed to have his playing status be reinstated prior to the conclusion of the 2009 season.”

Hmmm . . .

If that wasn’t weird enough, a few minutes later I run across something even more outrageous! It’s a story about David Letterman (my TV hero and mentor) admitting to affairs with female staff members AND that someone tried to extort him for $2 million dollars. The scum! He’s been in a relationship with his now wife (Regina Lasko) for over 20 years and they have a cute 5 year old boy together. And now he acknowledges that he’s done some “terrible, terrible things.” The whole story is pretty bizarre. Letterman talked about it for ten minutes or so on his show last night and while he was very up front about things, it was weird to hear him talk so snarkily (if that’s a word) and, even weirder, to hear the audience clap and laugh along the way.

Hmmm . . .

Both of these situations reminded me of something I have long believed: We’ve all got stuff!

Everyone has things they’ve done in their lives that they are not very proud of. Maybe even humiliating and shameful things. Sometimes they come out into the light of day for the world to see but most often they are buried in the deepest recesses of our hearts.

A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the more embarrassing moments in my life, such as, sending emails to the wrong person, having an “accident” on the berry picking bus, letting the anchor of my Dad’s boat slip quietly off the rope and into the river. In the big scheme of things, those things are pretty mild. If I really wanted to come clean, I’m pretty sure I could come up with a few things that you’d find surprising. However, until the statute of limitations passes, I think I’ll just keep that stuff to myself. (Just kidding!)

It is easy for us to judge others. Even though we all live in glass houses, we’re more than willing to throw the first stone! It’s easy for us to call others weasels (or worse) because of things they’ve done that we find distasteful or even disgusting.

* Mark Sanborn, governor of South Carolina, telling everyone he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while he was really cheating on his wife with a woman from Argentina.

* Michael Vick running a dog fighting competition where the dogs literally fight to the death.

* Eliot Spitzer, former governor of New York, cheating on his wife with a high priced call girl.

* Pete Rose betting on baseball.

* Merrill Lynch and AIG executives taking HUGE bonuses while American taxpayers are bailing out their companies because of their incompetence.

* Former Oregon governor, Neil Goldschmidt, admitting he had sex (raped) a 14 year old girl. (What is it with governors anyway?)

* Legarrette Blount punching people

* David Letterman messing around with his staff.

And we all know friends, family members, co-workers who have done some pretty awful stuff. For example:

* Abusing a spouse or their kids
* Stealing money from where they work or from others
* Driving drunk
* Not being honest about the hours they worked on their time card
* Cheating on their taxes
* Getting some “freebie” because were able to work the system
where they work

What a bunch of weasels, right? Throw the book thrown at ‘em! Send ‘em to jail. Give ‘em the death penalty! Hanging’s too good for ‘em!

But, before heading down that path, take a close look at yourself. Deep down all of us would have to admit that some of these kinds of things are true of us as well. We’ve all got stuff.

I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t hold people accountable for their mistakes. In fact, the world would be a better place if everyone was held accountable for their actions and not given an easy way out. BUT I do think we shouldn’t rush to judgment when an athlete, talk show host or just someone we work with does something wrong and gets caught. Chances are, we’ve done something equally crummy – but we just haven’t been caught yet.

We’ve all got stuff.

Philip Yancey tells a story in his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” about Will Campbell, Yale Divinity school graduate who was involved in the civil rights movement. As Yancey relates, “Campbell's theology was undergoing some testing in those days. Much of the opposition to his civil rights work came from "good Christians." Campbell found allies more easily among agnostics, socialists, and a few devout Northerners.”

One of those was a newspaper editor, P.D. East who asked Campbell to define the Christian message in ten words or less. Campbell responded with, “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.”

Later on, after a close friend in the civil rights movement was murdered, East put Campbell’s definition to the test.

First, he asked him whether his friend had been a “bastard.” Campbell replied that, even though he was a gentle and loving man, that everyone is a sinner and in that sense he was a bastard.

Then, East asked if his murderer was a bastard. That was easy to answer. “You bet” was the reply.

Then the reporter pulled his chair close and said, “Now which of these two bastards do you think God loves the most?” Here’s how Campbell describes his response:

“Suddenly everything became clear. Everything. It was a revelation I began to whimper. But the crying was interspersed with laughter I was laughing at myself, at twenty years of a ministry which had become, without my realizing it, a ministry of liberal sophistication....

I agreed that the notion that a man could go to a store . . . fire a shotgun blast at one of the customers, tearing his lungs and heart and bowels from his body... and that God would set him free is almost more than I could stand. But unless that is precisely the case then there is no Gospel, there is no Good News. Unless that is the truth we have only bad news, we are back with law alone.”

The love at the center of the Good News is not just for the deserving, but for those who deserve the opposite.

It may be that we’ve all got stuff but even so: We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.
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