another post you never expected from me.

here's a topic that you probably thought i would never talk about.  
it has to do with football.  something that generally, i could take or leave and not really care about.  it's a story about cultural trends.  unlearning what you have been taught by the mores of your community.  it's about learning your lesson and paying your penance.  it's about a second chance and about grace extended.  it's about not wasting talent and using the gifts God gave you.  it's about the pointing of fingers and the judgment we place on others who do things we don't understand.  

randomly, i am talking about michael vick.  
(google him if you need to but withhold judgement for the moment, if you can)

like i said, i am not really a football person.  but i am a fan of the comeback story.  i am a fan of athletes, who are looked up to by many, publicly learning their lessons and showing their fans that they can change and grow as people.  

i am not a football person, but i have gotten into more than one heated debate with others about this football player.  this man, who grew up not far from where i went to high school.  who could have easily been a classmate had this or that detail been changed.  this player who played (what i am told was excellent) college football one town over from where i went to college. 

this man who participated in dog fighting and terrible acts that surrounded this "sport".  people are so easy to dismiss him,  to throw him under the bus forever.  despite the fact that he has paid his dues and from what i can tell, is working hard to make his life right.  to use his bad decisions to teach others. 

people hate him.  hate his actions.  are appalled at the fact that he would ever be allowed to play football again.  they find him despicable and not worth any sort of human consideration.   

and i get that.  i really do.  the things he did were and are wrong. 
a terrible misuse of the responsibility of another being. 

what i don't get is that some of these same people have no problem with the athletes who have raped women or beat their girlfriends...but i digress.

what i think is that people who don't get this culture just don't get how anyone would even think that dog fighting is ok.  what they don't get is that where he grew's a culturally acceptable thing.  
he grew up in an area where animals are killed for food regularly...where hunting occurs for food and sport...where the local police force would show up for dog fights...i can honestly tell you, that if i, in high school, had stumbled upon a dog fight somehow...i don't know if i could have told you that it was wrong, legally...even if i would know it felt wrong as an act. 

i know that i could go back to the town where i attended high school and take a poll...and that poll would tell you that dog fighting is ok...entertaining even. 

it's just the state of things in some areas (of the south?).  

now i am not saying that a wrong should be overlooked. 
i am not saying that dog fighting should be ok. 

i am just saying that you can't understand why someone does the things they do unless you can understand the complex trail that got them to the point of committing some act. 

i think i have compassion on him because i get it.  i understand him in some way.  i can relate.  not because i have ever seen or participated in dog fighting...or any illegal act. 
but because i will be the first to admit that i am still unlearning things that i was taught.  i just came to the realization that it will probably take me the second 18 years of my life to undo the damage and "learning" i endured for the first 18.

i have a feeling it's a similar story for him.  it's a long road to change what you grew up with.  
you can read more about my learning curve HERE.   

i get that you want to be judged for who you are TODAY not who you were in the past.  or better yet not be judged at all.  each day you can rewrite your history and get a little closer to the person you want to become.  i am personally praying that he is on that road. 

 what pains me the most about his story is the self-righteousness with which people judge him.  each person that i have gone back and forth with is certain that they are so much better than him, that their sin is so less wrong.  and often times have said as much.
micheal vick's story reminds me that we are all wrong.  that we are all sinners and blackened with the same shade of gray that sin leaves on our hearts.  it helps me to be thankful that my shame isn't spread out on the nine o'clock news.  maybe if it was, we would all be a little less quick to condemn him.

was he wrong?  yes.  are we all wrong at some point? yes.  
are we the judge?  nope.  

  do i judge when i shouldn't?  yes.  sadly.  but i am on a learning curve there too. 

it just takes one step in front of the other to get on a new path.  and micheal vick reminds me to think twice about my assumptions and to be thankful that my name will most likely never be in a headline. 

and since i am also full of sin, i will pray for his best and withhold my judgement.

isn't that what we should all do for one another?


Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what you said! I am glad that Michael took responsibility for his actions & I do not hold his past against him. I pray that he is able to move forward with his life!

I can't really comment on the support of athletes who have raped or beaten their significant other since I personally have not seen anyone do that. Can you share where you witnessed that? I can't imagine anyone supporting that kind of behavior!

Off topic sort of, but I got a little bug-eyed when I saw the labels of this post, "dork" & "Jesus." At first I didn't see the comma between them & though "Oh my!"

ragamuffinbeauties said...

This post resonated with me, not about Michael Vick, but the sinner in us all. I am so broken hearted when someone deems it their Christian or non Christian duty to throw rocks while living in glass houses. I am a firm believer in that Jesus detests all sin, be it the littlest or biggest in our fleshly eyes, he deems it the same. Sin is sin, is sin. As you identified that Michael was culturally clouded (my word) to his actions being wrong, so to speak, we have culturally concluded that sins have some value on a number system. The liar and the murderer will answer the same. I don't assume to know how God decides to discipline us, but I know he yearns for us to love one another as he does, unconditionally and without searching for specks.

erica said...

This is a great post. I LOVE football and was shocked when the Michael Vick story broke. Shocked. And wondering why anyone would do anyting like that. Your post helped me understand the culture he grew up in. And, I couldn't agree more that we all have our issues. Everyone deserves a second chance. I follow football and it does seem that the football world has welcomed Vick back. I'm guessing that there will always be small minded ninnies out there. And I'm happy that there are people like you to help remind them of what Jesus wants for all of us.

gina said...

well said!

apholden said...

This is tough. We tend to think of ourselves as a victim and find it easy to judge others. I am quick to write people off -- black or white. Think of the people in your past that hurt you. What if someone was writing this post about how you should give them another chance? For some of us, it is our nature to push away people we KNOW have done bad thing in order to protect what we have worked so hard for. People who don't know him need to give him a break I suppose -- but for some of us who have lived a very hard life, choosing a wrong path means we have to push away and dismiss. Maybe the world needs to treat people who make mistakes differently. Maybe we need to turn them off... shut the out... ignore if you will. The attention and hatred is what is wrong. Disliking him for a bad choice -- my defense mechanism says turn away and don't look back. Maybe giving space will allow them time to make it right? I am rambling but I have struggled with forgiveness for forever -- am a VERY devout Christian -- and I get really turned around when people tell me to just forgive. In this man's case -- EASY. I don't know him. But relating this story to my life -- yeah, can't do it. The people who affected me negatively I will pray for but won't look at them as if they didn't do what they did... Far too many people have shown me that given another chance they will do the same thing. Sad but true.

Jessica said...

thank you for this Crystal. although i never really thought much of michael vick ... i guess, when i did, i was disgusted by this man who could such awful things and then be celebrated back into the nfl. but this post opened my eyes and convicted me. big time. wow. thanks.

My name is Becka said...

Thanks for making me turn around and look at myself. Thanks for taking the time to write that out :)

Sarah B. said...

Excellent post. My sister and I got into it watching the Super Bowl. She is very "anti Ben" because he is a "rapist" and wants to see him fail. Yet her favorite athlete is Kobe Bryant...long story short I don't like to compare the two of their "sins" but basically told her that you can put me in the same category as both of them, I am a sinner too and far from perfect. If every time I am trying to succeed at something you make me wear a label with my "worst sin" I would be sad. I appreciate the fact that God does not do that and allowed me to ask for forgiveness and change my ways.

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