No Crying In Basketball.

Jesus wept.  —John 11:35

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So…you foul out with :36 left on the clock.  Down by 5.  You watch, helpless, as it all slips away. This is the hardest you’ve worked in your life, and it’s come down to this:  A loss.

It’s enough to make you want to cry.

And so you look around the arena for your mother.  She’s sitting over there with your family.  As your bottom lip begins to tremble, you run across the court, climbing up into the stands, and you throw your arms around your mom.

As an astonished venue looks on, you let loose with a gut wrenching sob.  WAHHHHHH!!!  All the mental and physical exhaustion you’re feeling, plus the deep disappointment at not making it to the championship comes gushing out of you in great big torrents for all to see and hear.

Oh wait.  Scratch that.  That’s not right. That’s not how we do things. It’s perfectly acceptable for 15,000 fans to scream themselves hoarse rooting for a game, but to have one player show a few tears can somehow seem uncouth.  Even embarrassing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d be that guy burying my face in a towel.  I don’t want my anguish broadcast on TBS and around the world.  To me, painful emotions are private, intimate things.  But why?

Many people (especially men) have been raised to view showing sad emotions as a sign of weakness and a cause for embarrassment.  If you’ve sneakily brushed away tears after a sappy commercial, you may know what I’m talking about.  And I can’t tell you the number of people I see at a funeral, doing all they can to clamp down on those pesky feelings.

I wonder.  What would it take for you or I to come out of hiding and let our tears be a public statement of grief?  It would have to be for a very good reason, even more significant than losing a basketball game.

Well…it is Holy Week.  Kind of the epicenter of anguish for the Christian year.  What if we allowed ourselves to truly experience the depths of Holy Thursday or Good Friday?  What if we opened ourselves up to the brokenness of the world and the suffering of our savior?  Could we let it move us to tears?

All of our personal turning away from God.  All the pain of betrayal and denial and crucifixion and death and darkness.  Talk about a loss! This is no game–it’s the light of Christ snuffed out.  If there’s ever been a week for crying in public, isn’t this it?

Yes!  So here’s what you do.  You push your cart up and down the aisles of the grocery store, sniffing and blubbering. Every time someone asks you if you are alright, you say, “No.  Not this week,” and then tell them why.

Okay.  I’m dubious if any of us are going make that much of a scene, but I challenge you to feel something. If we can have our emotions stirred up by a basketball game, surely we can travel these last days of Lent, giving our whole hearts to Jesus.  There’s still time to discern, to reflect, and yes, to weep.  But know this…

in terms of days before Easter…

we’re down to the Final Four.

Have a Holy Week,

Mitch

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Transparency

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For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.  –Luke 8:17

 

So…perhaps you’re worried about your favorite presidential candidate.

Maybe they haven’t come clean about their health.  Or their tax records.

You could say that both leading presidential candidates are dealing with some transparency issues.  And it can make them look like they’ve got something to hide.

It’s a problem that anybody in the spotlight has to face:  How much goes public and how much stays private?

It’s not just a problem for famous people.  It’s a problem for you and I, too.

For instance:

If people thought you were grumpy, and it was because you have irritable bowel syndrome, that’s a transparency issue.

If fellow church members wondered why you were being so quiet, and it’s because your account was over-drafted and you didn’t know how to make it till payday, that’s a transparency issue.

If your mental illness keeps you from getting close to people, or your failing marriage keeps you from being social, or your ongoing struggle with alcohol makes you less fun at parties, those are issues with transparency!

In a better world we might share our weaknesses and illnesses with each other, expecting understanding and support, with no stigma attached. There are certain places and certain people where we can do that.

But in this world friendships hang in the balance, jobs can be on the line, and privacy can be essential.

In other words:  We can’t be transparent all the time.  It’s not always beneficial and it’s not always safe.

It’s important to remember that not everybody has to know everything about our lives…but God knows.

We must figure out how transparent to be with the people in our lives, but with God, there’s no hiding.

No holding back.

The Good News is that there’s no risk of embarrassment or judgment either.  God wants to know you, warts and all.

Here’s the cool thing:

When we willingly turn our whole lives over to God, we open ourselves to the fullness of God’s grace.  That grace is something we, in turn, can share with the people in our lives.

And the more grace we live with, the more transparent we may allow ourselves to be with others.

As for ‘Hil and Don?

I guess there may be some things that remain…

to be seen.

 

Have a great week,

Mitch

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38 MILLION.

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Did you hear that sound?

It was as if 38 million people had all uttered a string of expletives at the same instant.

Could such a thing be possible?

Yes indeed.  That’s not your imagination.  It’s the sound of 38 million Ashley Madison customers finding out their private accounts just became public.

By now, most have heard about this dubious website.  It was designed to be a discreet, anonymous place to set up an illicit affair.

Kind of a Match.com for people who had already been matched.

Government employees, that Duggar family creep, even a Christian video blogger have all been caught up in this scandal, and there are plenty more to come.

38 million.  That’s a lot of spouses about to be kicked out on the street.

Let’s see.  How many people is that, exactly?

Well, I did a search for “38 million” and here’s what I found from Yahoo News back in May:

Geneva (AFP) – Conflicts and violence in places like Syria and Ukraine have displaced a record 38 million people inside their own countries, equivalent to the total populations of New York, London and Beijing, a watchdog group said Wednesday.

Oh wait.  That’s an altogether different group of 38 million displaced people.

Hmm.  Who should we pray for?  The innocent victims of war and violence — losing their homes, their possessions, and their jobs?

Or should we pray for the not-at-all-innocent folks who tried to sneak around their marriage vows, and got caught?

I’m gonna pray for both.

One group has been horribly mistreated.  One group may get what they deserve.

But now’s as good a time as any to remember

that Grace is available…

no matter the state of your affairs.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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