Forgiveness Takes Time

August 25, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

If you know me at all in the real world, then you by all means should know about my golf rooting interests.  I have never been a fan of Tiger Woods.  It always had more to do with him being the overwhelming favorite and the way the press fawned over him, not anything personal.  I’m not saying that that there weren’t things about him personally that rubbed me the wrong way.  Dropping f-bombs on live national TV, that’s not cool.  I would often with friends rant about him and advocate for my favorite golfer, Phil Mickelson (I’m a lefty golfer as well and have followed him for about 13 years now).

When all of the new allegations came out last fall, his name became a punchline and a lot of people moved over to the rooting against Tiger Woods camp.  Certainly not the TV commentators, nothing has changed there, but that is a rant for a different day.  However, the one thing that I could not escape is that there was a real woman and two real children swept up in this.  My heart broke as I thought about Tiger’s wife, Elin Nordegren.  Not in a “You go girl.  Take him to the cleaners kind of way,” as if all that is involved here is money and ruining an arrogant celebrity.  This is a real woman who, by all accounts, genuinely loved her husband.

There is an interview with her coming out in People Magazine this week. (Will you judge me if I buy my first issue of People?)  They are teasing it today, and in the snippets that they give, it is apparent that she loved him and that her heart is broken.  She says that she never knew.  “I’m so embarrassed that I never suspected—not a one. For the past 3 1/2 years, when all this was going on, I was home a lot more with pregnancies, then the children and my school.”  I suppose a cynical person could say something to that.  Usually I am just cynical enough, but not this time.  My heart breaks for her as she tries to figure out what to do and how to put a life back together.  Again the cynic can go to $$$, but would you trade money for the life you have, for the people that matter most, for the tears shed by those little ones?

This post could easily turn into me taking shots at men, calling them to step up, take care of business at home.  It likely would, except I was struck by something that Elin said, “Forgiveness takes time.”  I know nothing about Elin’s spiritual life, but I wonder how someone in her situation could possibly forgive apart from experiencing the forgiveness that God offers through Jesus Christ.  What can it look like?  How long would it take?  Do you just get increasingly less angry until you don’t care anymore?  Do you have to build a different life and move on first?

It takes me a long time to stop burning angry for significantly smaller things and I have the Holy Spirit whispering at me, “Forgive like God through Christ forgave you.”  Forgiveness means that I will no longer hold this sin against you, as if you had never done it.  Forgiveness means it’s over.  How do you truly forgive?  How do you get beyond forgiveness meaning, “I’m not going to be demonstrably angry with you…for now?”

I’m convinced that it is only through experience.  You have to have experienced that kind of forgiveness to give it.  God has to have shown you that you are completely forgiven and experience that grace.  When God has forgiven us so much, how can we not pass that on?

It’s not easy, that’s for sure.  Forgiveness takes time, and Him.

Pastors, Tiger Woods and “Privacy”

February 19, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I have been rooting against Tiger Woods for about 13 years now.  I actively watch golf, especially the major championships.  I remember him winning his first Masters and many more tournaments since then.  Why would I root against him?  At some point I will blog about my philosophy about whom I root for and why.  For now, here are two of the top principles on the list.  I do not root for the person or team that wins all the time.  I do not root for whom the media tells me I should be.  Suffice to say, if you are over-hyped and win a lot, you can imagine that I will root against you and your team.   I say all of that, because most of my friends know this and will think that this post comes from that.  It does not.

I am struck by the calls from Tiger’s defenders and Tiger himself for his desire and right for privacy.  Even listening to the radio this morning, Bob Steele on KARN was getting lambasted for even talking about it.  “This is a private matter.”  “This is between him and his wife.”  “This isn’t even news.” 

I understand some of that, I suppose.  But I look at this from a completely different angle.  I know what it is like to be a public figure.  Nowhere near to the degree that Tiger Woods does, of course.  But on a much smaller scale, I do know.  All pastors know what I am talking about.  People always recognize you.  People recognize you and you don’t know who they are.  Those same people are always watching everything.  “What is he doing over there, sitting at McDonalds on his computer?”

Do I deserve privacy?  Do I deserve to be able to walk around Wal-Mart anonymously?  Do I deserve the right to have a life that is private?  What right do people have to know what is going on in my life?   With my wife, Heidi?  With my daughters, Maylee and Lauren who are 12 and 9 and are prominently pictured on the front page of my website?  Do people have the right to critique my parenting skills about which I blog on a regular basis and use to encourage other people?  (Hopefully, you by now, see the ridiculous way this is going)

I gave up the right to anonymity when I made the choice to enter a profession that put me in the public view.  I give it up even more when I talk about my life in a sermon.  I give it up further when I publish parts of my life and then post links encouraging people to read what I have written.  My livelihood depends on my reputation.

So what happens when a celebrity, sports figure, or pastor fails?  Do we get to invoke the privacy card?  The very same reputation that I need to have to do what I do is now gone.  Is it unfair that people would judge me?  Celebrities, sports figures, and yes pastors don’t seem to mind as long as they hear the cheers and cash the checks, but when it turns…?

Are we a celebrity-obsessed culture?  Yes.  Do we have too high of expectations of the sports figures we love?  Yes.  Do most pastors live in an unhealthy fishbowl also with unreasonable expectations?  Yes.  However, the time to complain about it is not when it starts working against us.  If this is not what we want, get out.  Better yet, don’t fail.  Be in your private life who you say you are in your public life. 

(That’s good advice, even if you are not a celebrity, sports figure or pastor)

****addendum, post Tiger’s prepared statement

There was a lot in that statement.  As a public speaker, I analyze things very differently.  He is not a great public speaker, so it would be unfair to read too much into his inflection, tone, body language, etc.  I am tempted to say a lot here, but I want to keep it on the topic addressed in the post. 

He did not make a desperate appeal for his own privacy, which is good.  He did make a passionate appeal for the privacy of his family.  Again, not reading too much into his tone, his appeal was angry.  Humble would have been better.  “I have failed, they don’t deserve this.  Please, leave them alone.  Harass me, but please give them some space.  They need that.”  He is right in saying that he has protected them from the public eye, mostly.  They are a part of his image, and he did bring them out.  He is their protector and defender.  He brought them into the spotlight, and it his responsibility to protect them.  Every paparazzi picture and salacious article is his fault, fair or not.  Now, humbly ask for help and support from the media.  Then we will turn against the media, and this can die slowly.

  I give the whole thing a C+,kinda what I expected.