Category - integrity

Counting My Way to a Bad Place

So, one of the stories in the Bible that has struck and always stayed with me is from 1 Chronicles 21:1 (and from 2 Samuel 24:1). Basically, God had ended a three-year famine, and David’s kingdom was thriving. His nemesis Saul was dead, and he had recently crushed the Philistines, Moabites, and Ammonites, and he was pummeling any enemies that went up against him. And everything was going along quite epically during this mountaintop season of his life. But then it says that David was incited to take a census of his fighting men. That is, he felt led to count up the size of his army.

No big deal, right? Actually, it was.

Back in the day, we learned that God (in Numbers 1) told Moses and Aaron to count up the people in their respective families and then organize them in preparation for war. So, there was nothing inherently or fundamentally wrong with the action itself. However, this situation was different – because David’s motivation wasn’t pure. And it’s pretty clear what prompted his decision: pride and vanity.

David did it because he wanted to see how strong he was. How vast his army was. And he wanted it to bring him confidence, and assurance, and even a perception of control. Maybe after he was finished counting, he was like, “I got this!” or “Man, we are going to kill it and go #beastmode on anyone who even tries to mess with us!” And while it seems pretty harmless for David to quantify the enormity of his kingdom and influence and power in this way, God was not pleased. And David and the people of Israel paid a steep price, and things got really bad, really fast. Because God is all about the state of our hearts, and the reasons behind why we do the things we do. And it’s clear that David’s decision demonstrated that he had begun to trust a little too much in himself, instead of exclusively on God.

And it’s clear that David’s decision demonstrated that he had begun to trust a little too much in himself, instead of exclusively on God.

I do this. More often than I would like to admit.

Now for sure, I’ve gotten better over the decades because this cautionary tale seriously pops into my mind sometimes. But it’s still a struggle, and I still mess up some days by rationalizing away my actions as just not a big deal. And I thought that since this chapter of David’s life has left such an impression on me, it might be useful to catalogue the ways in which I have counted and numbered things.

Again, it may not seem like a big deal. But I know my heart is in the wrong place when I consider the reasons why I’m doing it….
To feel good about myself.
To feel better about my situation.
To reassure myself that I can exert some level of control on how things are going to turn out.
To validate the way I am living my life.

But all of this takes my eyes off of Him, and hollows out the marrow of my faith, and makes me think that I am the source of certain things in my life, instead of Him. I don’t want to be the source, because then everything is up to me, and that is such an exhausting and desperate way to live. I don’t want that at all.

I don’t want to be the source, because then everything is up to me, and that is such an exhausting and desperate way to live. I don’t want that at all.

So what all do I find myself counting?

  • My followers on Instagram and Twitter. I know, it’s ridiculous, but the ugly part of me sometimes believes that the extent of my social media influence proves that people like me and are interested in my life and what I have to say. And that the larger my online platform, the more professional opportunities will come my way. Most days, I know I am deluding myself because I’m pretty sure a double-tap on my latest photo doesn’t mean very much at all. But it still helps me a little when I’m struggling with self-doubt and fogginess. And most days I remember that God is in charge of giving me opportunities – and can do so in spades even if I wasn’t on social media at all (He exalts in due time (1 Peter 5:6)). But when the opportunities aren’t coming, I am so tempted to count and measure and number. And crave more. And work for more. Just to grasp at a perception of security that is completely intangible and has no real-world equivalency.I am not actually more loved, or more successful, or more fulfilled based on my metrics in cyberspace. I’m just not.
  • My money. Now, I know that it’s not really my money – I’m simply a steward of what God has entrusted to me and He expects me to use it to bless others and make His name great across the world. But here again, in the interest of trying to control my future, the temptation is to frequently take stock of where I am financially – to make sure I close to where I want to be.
    For a nest egg.
    For retirement.
    For my kids’ schooling.
    For the cars I’ll have to purchase when they turn 16.
    For the medical expenses we may have to face during our sunset years.And yes, I understand the value of financial planning, and wise investments, and money management – and I can’t be oblivious to what is going on with my bank account – but I know (and you know) when we are doing it just to feel in control, or so it can offer some reassurance that the bottom won’t fall out. But the control we feel is a complete illusion because we honestly have no clue what the future is going to bring. Life has a tendency to level us unexpectedly – perhaps to keep us on our toes, and perhaps to remind us where (and who) our source really is.
  • My citations. I don’t know what your own comparable is for this, but as an academic I am able to see how many times other scholars have referenced my papers in their publications and bibliographies. And in academia, much prestige is bestowed upon those who are cited a lot – because it means that their work is influencing the research of others. It is super tempting to keep checking this statistic. But seriously, it should not matter to me. I should do great work, to the best of my ability, and if people want to cite it, they can. And if my boss or a new potential employer wants to look it up to evaluate me, they can. But I shouldn’t, because it feeds my pride and vanity. And that is so distasteful to me. And again, a demonstration of distrust in God as my sole source.I don’t want the world’s prestige. I want His favor and kindness upon my life.
  • My years. Like everyone else, I’m growing older, and on crappy days there is this tendency to take stock of the breadth of my life and measure it against that of others….
    What awesome things have I accomplished as compared to what he or she or they have accomplished?
    What cool experiences have I had, as compared to what they have had?
    What all do I have going for me, as compared to them?And I do this so subtly, and so momentarily that I can get away with it in my head without calling myself out as a petty, jealous, insecure jerk. But I am those things, in those moments. I am. Those things are in my heart. And I do not want them there. At all. And God is not honored at all. It doesn’t matter whether I act on those feelings. And Psalm 66:18 says that if I cherish sin in my heart, He will not listen. I so need Him to always listen….

I find it really interesting that right after David had made his decision, he was immediately wracked with guilt. How many of us have been there, right after the questionable and prideful decisions we make? He felt awful and foolish, and actually begged God to forgive him and take away his iniquity and rescue him out of his conscience-stricken state. Yep, I’ve done that too. Multiple times.

I just want to trust my Heavenly Father more and more and more, with every passing day. He is sovereign, and He holds my life in His hands. There’s this great verse and truth I am reminded of from Psalm 20:7 (that was first introduced to me in a Jennifer Knapp song!) that states: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. I love that. And actually I am now remembering another verse, from Psalm 33, which Mike Donehy of Tenth Avenue North inspired me to memorize:

No king is saved by the size of his army…no warrior escapes by his own strength…a horse is a vain hope for deliverance…despite all its great strength, it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him…on those who hope in His unwavering love…to deliver them from death, and keep them alive in famine.

Actually, that Psalm gets even better, and ends quite triumphantly with what I would totally want to be the anthem of my life as I think about all of this:

We wait in hope for the Lord…He is our strength and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, even as we put our hope in you.

Oh man, just reading again that gets me fired up! I truly and wholeheartedly believe that. I stand on that. I have built my house on that, and I have built my life on that. I want Him to keep making me ever so sensitive to when my heart is not in the right place, and to make sure that any counting I do is not motivated by pride or vanity. I know I will still stumble here and there, but I’m committed to keep getting better. Because He is worth that. And He has never let me down.

Counting on Him is so much more the better choice than counting up anything else.

(Image source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/policymic-images/fwmarisyyi9s0xrveei60c5y5nkgu7tjwemvzyvg1vnimhtrvhzcovjfqompn14p.jpg)

 

Any Guy Can Get Any Girl

As I’ve mentioned a few years ago on this blog, beautiful girls are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And growing up during my adolescence as a warm-blooded heterosexual male, I really liked looking at them. And I wanted to become their friend. And I wanted to become their boyfriend. And wanted to marry them and make babies with them and live happily ever after with them. Well, not “them” – just one of them. Any one of them. They were all so wonderfully amazing, with their pretty eyes and their smooth skin and their curves in all the right places. You know what I’m talking about. Guys, remember your teenage years. Remember being mesmerized early on, when your eyes were first opened to them. You get it.

Plus, the men in movies and on the sports fields and on television – my heroes, if you will (superficial, I know, but I still looked up to them as an adolescent) – all had beautiful girls in their lives. A beautiful girl makes you want to run faster than a speeding bullet. She makes you want sink the winning bucket or score the winning touchdown. She makes you want to lasso the moon for her. Like there is a direct link from doing something epic to winning her heart and getting to hold her close while slow dancing, getting to cuddle with her on a couch while watching a movie, getting to build a life with her all the while thinking that you’re the luckiest guy alive.

At this point, you might be wondering, how did it go for me – as a teenager…was I a ladies man? Did I have success with any beautiful girls back then? Did I go on a lot of dates, and woo a lot of hotties, and break a lot of hearts? Well, if you’re reading this blog, you probably know me in real life, and so you also probably know that the answer is a resounding no. It was awful. I didn’t know anything about girls, or relationships, or what to do. At all.

I remember all of my crushes. In third grade, Shelly. In fourth grade, Leah. In fifth grade, Mrs. Stanley (oh man, she was a looker. And she taught English really well). In sixth and seventh grade, Melissa. In eighth and ninth grade, Summer. In tenth and eleventh grade, Rachel. In twelfth grade, Lucy.

But I barely talked to any of them. I didn’t know how. Because they all felt completely out of my league. On a whole different level. I didn’t know what actually mattered at that age. And I didn’t know what actually matters long-term. And in retrospect, my ineptitude was actually a blessing, because it saved me from 1) being heartbroken a million times and 2) leaving a trail of broken hearts in my wake.

All of those beautiful girls were (obviously) pursued by all of the beautiful guys. The popular guys. The guys on the sports teams, the guys who exuded so much confidence and strength. The guys who were charismatic and incredibly charming, and made them laugh, and looked great with their shirt off. And that wasn’t me. But that’s what I thought it took. To land a girl. To be in a relationship. To make progress towards ‘happily ever after.’ And so I would try. In very feeble, awkward, contrived, and unnatural ways, I would try.

With Summer, in eighth and ninth grade, I knew she liked Nine Inch Nails, and so I started to listen to them. And adopt more of a dark, depressed, and mysterious air about me. I basically became emo. But that didn’t get her interested in me romantically. With Rachel, in tenth and eleventh grade, I could tell that she loved it when I made her laugh, and so I would seriously spend all sorts of time learning jokes and riddles and humorous anecdotes and puns so that I could share them with her (in an off-the-cuff manner) during Spanish class each day. Unfortunately, that didn’t work and I stayed stuck in the friend zone. Even though I had started to work out at this point, and even though I was starting to get ripped and pretty vascular. I really thought that would do it, but it didn’t. What the pez. I thought girls would swoon over bulging veins. Nope. Apparently it takes more than that.

Anyway, with Lucy in twelfth grade, I wrote her not one, not two, but THREE poems over the course of the school year, and had a very popular kid at my lunch table deliver them to her (because of course I couldn’t do it personally, I was incredibly self-conscious and shy). And while I did talk to her a couple of times, I never mustered up the courage to actually convey to her that her sapphire eyes seriously left me breathless, let alone ask her for her phone number or to hang out sometime. Now that I think about it, I would have probably done it in the wrong order. Dangit. (Be cool, Sameer, BE COOL. You’re not supposed to freak them out by coming on too strong too early.) Oh, the lessons I needed to learn….

I also should point out that I didn’t really think of girls as normal human beings. Now, I didn’t objectify them and want to possess them, but I definitely pedestalized them.

I also should point out that I didn’t really think of girls as normal human beings. Now, I didn’t objectify them and want to possess them, but I definitely pedestalized them. To me, they were the tour de force of God’s handiwork, His most magnificent masterpiece. It never really occurred to me that they struggle in many of the same ways that I struggled, and that most everyone else struggles. With doubts, fears, bouts of loneliness, insecurities, needs for validation and affirmation, parental problems, money problems, and so much more. They just seemed perfect to me, and I wanted to be associated with that perfection, and delight and revel in that perfection. It was really that simple and that uncomplicated for me.

As I got older, though, my eyes slowly opened. And I started to see that while many girls were (naturally) drawn to beautiful guys, that wasn’t the most important thing necessary to win their hearts and – most importantly – to make the relationship last. Physical attractiveness, a sense of humor, and an abundance of charisma and charm was nice, but it was gravy. It was sprinkles. The cherry on top. And I started to learn that all the things my pastor and the other fatherly figures in my life were telling me were actually (and incredibly) true: what matters is not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside. For so long that seemed so cliché, and hollowly comforting – but as time went on and as everyone gets older and has to live out adulthood – it’s actually everything. It’s like the biggest truth ever. And so this made me think that wow, Sameer, you have a shot. You’re not destined to be alone forever, and God could actually give you your heart’s desire (a girl I was attracted to!!!! And, of course, who was really awesome).

My first glimpse of the reality of this was when I realized that God had made me a good listener. Because as I started to feel more comfortable around members of the opposite sex (you know, look them in the eye, sit next to them on a couch, give them hugs when I saw them), they would want to talk to me. I repeat: girls wanted to talk to me. A lot! And I would just listen, and give them the best of my attention. And they would really appreciate it, and keep coming back. And yes, I would remain encamped in the friend zone, and never ever demonstrate interest (for fear of creeping them out, which is rooted in a fear of rejection). But this would be good for me. It would be a very instructive revelation during this growing season of my life.

Time continued to march forward, and with me not being in any relationships and not really knowing what I was doing to even try to make one happen, God had lots (LOTS!) of time to work on my character. He broke my heart a million times so that I could feel the pain of others readily, viscerally, incessantly (and often too much, at times). He whittled down my sharp edges, and replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). He pounded me in the crucible and thwarted the plans I made in my own strength and own efforts, so I could learn that unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). He taught me how to give grace to myself and to others who were trying but also failing. He made me dependent on Him for my validation, and confidence, and hope. And He gave me childlike faith, and restored my ability to see the world with awe and wonder (which, incidentally, I believe He can do for anyone, at any time of their life). And apparently, all of this made me attractive to the opposite sex. Seriously. I’m not making this up. Yes, it surprises me too. But then I landed the most beautiful woman I know to be my wife forever, and so I’m pretty sure it is true.

But then I landed the most beautiful woman I know to be my wife forever, and so I’m pretty sure it is true.

I feel that when a woman reaches adulthood on a both a “head” and “heart” level, and when the “teenage dream” relationship ideal of which Katy Perry so eloquently sings has unfortunately fallen short, they realize they would much rather have a man of substance rather than style. Style is a good thing – six pack abs, witty banter, hilarious cuteness, and all of that – but you can’t build a life and a marriage and a family on that. You can’t anchor deep into that, and hold fast through the storms that invariably will come your way. And I’ve learned that the converse is also true: I can’t be all about pretty eyes, and smooth skin, and curves, because I need a helpmate and a true partner for life so much more (desperately more!) than I need arm candy.

Style is a good thing – six pack abs, witty banter, hilarious cuteness, and all of that – but you can’t build a life and a marriage and a family on that. You can’t anchor deep into that, and hold fast through the storms that invariably will come your way.

And so for all of these reasons, I believe that any guy can get any girl. There is no such thing as “out of your league.” You just need to work on being solid, and learning the many lessons He wants to teach you during this season of singleness and preparation. You just need to major in substance, and minor in style – rather than the other way around. Then, you will actually become God’s best, positioned to receive God’s best. I know it’s easy to say and to commend to others, but miserably difficult to walk out. I am currently trying to convey this to a couple of the teen guys I am mentoring, and I feel like they get it on a “head” level…but it’s so hard to wait and trust and prepare. Especially when nothing is happening, for years and years and years. It’s like, this is not working, why do I even bother…. And I’ve been there for what seemed like decades, so I completely get it. It sucks. But it’s all part of it. They know my journey, and they know how it worked out for me in the end. And how my life shouts out the truth of His promise that those who wait on the Lord will not be disappointed (Isaiah 49:31).

Standards, and Why She Really Needs To Be Into God

So, I mentioned in my last post about girls and standards that I believed a shared faith is so essential, at least to me.  I mentioned that she should be headed in the same spiritual direction as me, and she should earnestly try to live her life with integrity in all areas.  And I think it’s a very reasonable standard to have, and one on which I could never compromise.  Why?  Okay, here goes.  And I really hope to express this in a fresh, palpable way.

As huge of a fan as I am of life, I am also acutely aware of how very, very difficult it is to do well, and to not irreparably wreck yourself and others along the way.  Growing older is hard, dealing with the mortality of your parents is hard, handling school and work stresses is hard, dealing with your own personal junk and insecurities is hard, and relationships are hard – even if you are with your absolute dreamgirl, the one you know God made you for, and the one who was made for you.  And life is full of inconsistencies, and unpredictabilities, and instabilities, and so much that you can’t possibly control.  And of course you can’t control how a relationship will progress or turn out, but I think you can find a girl who makes it so you don’t need to try to control anything.  Because she is all about living for Him, and surrendered completely to what He wants for her.  And you hopefully are all about living for Him, and surrendered completely to what He wants for you.

You can’t control how a relationship will progress or turn out, but I think you can find a girl who makes it so you don’t need to try to control anything.  Because she is all about living for Him, and surrendered completely to what He wants for her. 

I feel that relationships end for many reasons.  Because people just don’t want to put in the hard work to make them last forever.  Because people think that the “feelings” of love should always, always be there, even though the reality is that feelings are fickle and fade, and require intentional, constant effort to be rekindled.  Because people think that there is someone else out there better suited for them, even though they were convinced this was the best possible person for them when they got together.  Because people think that they need to scrape and claw and salvage whatever “life” they have left, and that means getting rid of whatever it is they feel might be holding them back.

It has been said that you can’t trust a man without a limp (referencing Jacob in Genesis 32, and how he wrestled with, and was then injured by, an angel in order to break his pride and will, and lead him to growth and maturity).  To me, when it comes to relationships, that means in order for me to trust her (as much as it is possible to trust a fallible, flawed, and partly dysfunctional human being like myself and like everyone else), I need for her to have been broken in some way by Him, and especially by the Cross – which Christians believe is a symbolic representation of understanding what we truly deserve as those who rejected and hated God with our attitudes and choices, but who have graciously been forgiven and given the gift of life, and love, and today.  If she has been broken, then I can have faith that she is not all about herself, and her goals, and her future, and the nice, comfortable little life she wants to build.

If she has been broken, then I can have faith that she is not all about herself, and her goals, and her future, and the nice, comfortable little life she wants to build.

Rather, if she has been broken then I can have faith that she is more concerned with what God is concerned about.  Like, unconditional love.  Sacrifice.  Commitment.  Others before oneself.  Widows and orphans.  Those on the fringes, those who have been marginalized.  The narrow road, rather than the broad one which often leads to destruction.  Words and actions that build up, instead of tear down.  Being swept up in something bigger than herself, something that transcends the silly daily dramas we often get wrapped up in that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  Obtaining her identity from what He says about her, instead of from her physical beauty, or athleticism, or the scene she is part of, or her line of work, or American cultural standards of success, or from how she wants everyone to view her.

And then there is integrity.  I’m a social scientist by trade and a keen observer of human behavior by nature, and so I firmly believe that past performance is the best indicator of future performance.  I need her to have a track record and consistent pattern of making good, healthy, life-affirming choices.  Not a track record of choices made on bad days and nights which really convey sentiments like “Screw you, God” or “Whatever, it doesn’t matter” – where she does things just because she’s in the moment, or she’s mad at the world, or things have been really crappy and show no signs of improvement, or because she needs to numb herself from the harsh realities of life.  I need her to not want to hurt God by doing stuff that makes Him sad.  Because that gives me confidence she is not going to want to hurt me by doing stuff that makes me sad.  And I really need her to feel that deeply, to where she can’t possibly turn her back on Him, or on me, by proceeding down a pathway of wrong and painful choices just to get through, just to survive, just to eek out whatever shred of momentary comfort or happiness she can get.

I need her to not want to hurt God by doing stuff that makes Him sad.  Because that gives me confidence she is not going to want to hurt me by doing stuff that makes me sad. 

To be sure, I must be clear that I am talking about a pattern here.  Because we are all going to make mistakes.  Possibly huge ones, with consequences that will last the rest of our lives.  But overall, she has to know that there usually always is a right and a wrong, and not as many grey areas as the culture would have us believe.  And she must desire with all of her heart to do what is right, because somehow – on a cosmic, transcendent level – it matters.  I know it matters to God, because He has provided a standard for us to try to emulate.  And it matters to me, because honestly I will find it so very attractive.  And it should matter to her, because it leads to blessings, and peace, and the fullness of life.

While a girl like this doesn’t guarantee a successful relationship, because life is complicated and we cannot manipulate it to turn out exactly how we want it to be, it definitely does increase the chances of things working out, and working out really wonderfully well.  Not that choosing a girl is like making a safe bet.  That’s the last thing I want, because I’m not going to get fireworks, and butterflies, and shortness of breath, and can’t-imagine-my-life-without-her intensity of feelings, and the essence of true, passionate, romantic love if I just choose a safe bet.  I just mean that I won’t allow myself to fall in love with a girl who isn’t moving steadfastly in this direction. Because that is the way I am going.  And we need to be able to do this adventure together, in step with each other, all the way to the end.

I’m not going to get fireworks, and butterflies, and shortness of breath, and can’t-imagine-my-life-without-her intensity of feelings, and the essence of true, passionate, romantic love if I just choose a safe bet.

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Doing the Right Thing, On and Off the Volleyball Court

I went go to see Les Miserables recently…I had always loved the book and the storyline, and this was my first opportunity to see it on stage. The experience was amazing, and the portrayal of Jean Valjean’s inner struggle to do the right thing really gripped me. He had committed a crime (breaking parole) early on in life, and despite all the good that he had since done and was continuing to do, he still felt compelled to pay the penalty he was due to pay (prison time). And that is right of him. That is how it should be. “Choose to sin, choose to suffer,” as my favorite pastor James MacDonald always says. There are always consequences for one’s actions, no matter what. And Valjean wanted to do the right thing, no matter what. He could have easily rationalized staying free, hiding from the law, and never turning himself in. He was truly saving lives on the outside (like Cosette’s)…but he continued to feel convicted about past wrongs – and wanted deep down to make it right.

I found that very noble, and not at all foolish. Too often we justify things and dismiss the Holy Spirit and what He is trying to tell us…and then we wonder why we can’t hear from God in other situations. It is because we have allowed that still, small voice to be drowned out in the noise of our own mental gymnastics. I mean seriously, how often do we do that on even a weekly basis???

For whosoever wants to love life and see good days…must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. ~ 1 Peter 3:10

This reminded me of myself and my choices…and how as I get older I keep wanting to completely get rid of all forms and types of deception in my life. And I’ve definitely made a huge amount of progress in this area, but I find that sometimes I still am at least willing and hopeful that the “rules” are bent a little for me. This is very messed up. And actually kind of awful. The Bible talks about “not even a hint” of any kind of impurity in Ephesians 5:3. That definitely includes lies. Lies of commission, lies of omission…fibs, white-lies, half-truths, whatever. It’s all the same when – when you’re doing it – you feel a lack of peace about it. And we know that Satan is the Father all of all lies. So how could we allow ourselves to directly or indirectly agree with him…to side with him….to be on the same page as him? That is crazy. I want nothing to do with Him, ever, with him never having even so much as a toehold in my life. Life is way too difficult as it is. But, even though I know all this in my head, I still don’t always do the right thing.

I was thinking specifically about me on the sand volleyball court. I’m playing intramurals at my school, and so we have these weekly competitive games. And I have noticed that I am very quick and vocal to call out when an opponent’s ball clearly hits outside the lines…but when the opponent’s ball very possibly hits the lines (and is in) or definitely could have been in…I stay silent…and allow the line judge to make the call. Aaaarrrghhh. It’s like, I want to catch a break. And I definitely see this in other areas of my life and the lives of others…it’s like, we want to get away with something…as if, we are entitled to catch a break because a lot in life goes against us (depending on the orientation of our perspective, of course). But I don’t want to be like that, and I don’t want to think like that. I shouldn’t want to try to manipulate the situation just so I earn a point, or get a break.

I want to be someone who doesn’t have any part of my identity wrapped up in my team winning or losing the game. I want to be completely disassociated from the plays…and I don’t want to be hoping for breaks in judges’ calls. If I think that one of my hits was probably not in, I want to be able to loudly and boldly say that from my vantage point, that looked out, the point goes to the other team. Even if it’s match point. If I definitely don’t know, then I can remain silent…but when I kind of probably know…I want to be speak up because honesty is more important than anything else. Seeking righteousness is more important than anything else. And there is definitely a wrong and a right, and I remain silent in order to scheme out a point to benefit me, it is so wrong. And I can’t rationalize it away.

Seeking righteousness is more important than anything else. And there is definitely a wrong and a right, and I remain silent in order to scheme out a point to benefit me, it is so wrong. And I can’t rationalize it away.

Don’t I trust God enough that if I am honest, no matter what, He will take care of me? That He will surround me with favor like a shield (Psalm 5:3)? And not just when playing sports (like, protecting me from injury, or helping me to play my best even if we lose) but also in life (in relationships, in opportunities, in work, in health, in family stuff)? Is not God big enough to work things out for me in those areas – the areas that actually matter – if I am being completely honest in all of my dealings (including line calls during sand volleyball)?

And maybe you are thinking, my goodness, calm down, it’s just a volleyball game. But then I wonder how many times have I missed God speaking to me – and a golden chance to grow closer to Him and have His heart beat in sync with mine – because I trivialize the situation and discard the life lesson that can and should be extracted. God wants to teach us stuff all the time, through every experience. And I don’t want to miss out on Him because I’ve allowed my conscience to get seared through repeated neglect. Everything is about choices. And this is one that I am glad He has pointed out…. Because I want to keep growing. And I want to do the right thing. Because He deserves it.

I wonder how many times have I missed God speaking to me – and a golden chance to grow closer to Him and have His heart beat in sync with mine – because I trivialize the situation and discard the life lesson that can and should be extracted.

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