It is a rough year to be a fan of the Big Orange. Just for clarification, I am writing this article prior to the games against Auburn and Alabama, and while I hope after these games are played we are celebrating victories over the Tigers and Crimson Tide, I am not counting on it. Instead, I am basing my thoughts in this article on the debacle that was the game against the University of Florida.
Half a dozen turnovers, poor tackling, lack of execution in all phases, and a myriad of other problems led to a decisive defeat for the Volunteers. Now, you might be wondering why I am spending time writing about this contest. “It is just a game” or “I do not like, nor understand, football” and other objections might be forwarded in an attempt to not read further. Please continue reading and see if I can explain something I think would benefit all of us to consider.
A day or two after the game, I noticed that the official website for the UT football team put out a highlight video. If you are unfamiliar with a highlight video, it is a condensed presentation of the best plays or highlights of the game. Now, if you watched the game on the Saturday evening it was played, you probably saw very little worthy of being called a highlight. However, if you only watched the highlight video, you would have a far different perspective. You might even conclude the game was evenly matched and that Tennessee played very well. Of course, this is a mistaken conclusion that was reached by just watching the best plays in the game.
What is the spiritual connection or parallel to the above point? Sometimes, we only see the highlights of other people’s lives. Especially for those who use social media, this is a real problem in my opinion. You see the pictures other people post of vacation destinations, and you lament you are overworked and never able to enjoy some time away. You see the smiling faces of children and grandchildren in pristine matching outfits, and you moan that all your children do is fight and fuss with each other every day. You feel inferior when someone shares how they purchased a new car, boat, house, or other material good while you are barely scraping by. You look with envy at the romantic dinner meal, beautiful floral bouquet, or other expressions of love offered by a friend’s partner, and you cannot recall the last time your spouse purchased you anything to show you that he or she loves you. You read their spiritual thoughts or inspirational quotes about the closeness of their relationship with God, and you feel far away from Him in your daily walk of faith. I could go on and on with these comparisons, but I trust these are sufficient to illustrate my point.
We often just see the highlights when we look at the lives of other people and families, whether on social media, at the ballgame on Friday night, or in the worship assembly on Sunday morning. As a result, we compare our mundane and stress-filled existence with what we perceive to be their peaceful perfect life, and we allow envy and discontentment to take root in our minds and hearts. This in turn, if not rooted out, will produce the fruit of bitterness and resentment. We will begin to mistakenly question why God does not bless us like He does others. We will wrongly doubt the devotion of our spouse and wish he or she was more like someone else. We will unfairly chastise our children and tell them they should act more like the angelic examples set by other kids. In short, we will grant the devil access to distract and deceive us and cause us to incorrectly conclude our life is a mess and that we are unappreciated, unskilled, and unloved.
Remember, you are just watching the highlights. My family has been complimented by others who stated: “I wish my family was like yours.” I assure any who think this that our family is far from perfect. We fight and fuss. We are impatient. We have a multitude of weaknesses and struggles every day, but the same is true for every family and every person! This may not be how it looks to those on the outside, but it is reality. Don’t grow discouraged just watching the highlights of other people’s lives!