The Mocking (The Lebron James Factor)

The MockingAdmittedly, I’m a Miami Heat fan.

I’ve heard the accusations of jumping on the bandwagon of the reigning NBA Championship team. However, this is not so. In my own defense, I’ve been a long time fan of the New Jersey Nets. When they decided to move to Brooklyn, they severed ties with me! With that said (and cleared up), I’ve watched the Miami Heat’s seasons of victory and defeat. Now, they have the unique opportunity to be a part of history by becoming NBA Champions three times in a row. If achieved, it will be noted that this is not an easy feat.

After a young adults bible study, I watched ABC to see the last quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. It was already widely reported by this time that the arena was experiencing an air conditioning shutdown. The fans were using fans to fend off the heat (no pun intended)! The conditions in the arena affected game play, especially with one of the most celebrated players in all of basketball – Lebron James. During gameplay, Lebron experienced severe cramping resulting in him forfeiting the opportunity to finish the game. It can be disputed by sports analysts and fans, but when Lebron left the game, the Spurs went on a great running streak. When the game was over, the Spurs were victorious.

This blog post is not to address what happened during the game. Rather, I want to address the mocking that took place after the game. Lebron James “haters” began to post photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, mocking how he left the game and why.

“If it was Michael Jordan, he would have played.”

“Kobe had a ruptured achilles and walked off! They had to carry Lebron off!”

These comments and memes began to flood the social media world. They had a new word for the mocking called “LEBRONING”. People from across the country began posting photos of friends carrying them, mimicking Lebron James in pain.

After seeing this — a thought crossed my mind.

Whether you are a fan of Lebron James, the Miami Heat or even the game of basketball, there’s a lesson to be learned. When you are striving for excellence, prepare yourself for THE MOCKING. Subtlety or directly, it will come. In the case of NBA Finals Game 1, before the evening was up, thousands of TV viewers (most of whom have never walked on a basketball court let alone play the game) reveled in the opportunity to make fun of the reigning NBA Champion. It is as if they were awaiting the moment to criticize, harass, or make fun of a celebrity-athlete…who experienced pain.

When asked about the internet wave, Lebron commented by saying he didn’t care what people thought. I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I seriously doubt it didn’t have some affect on him. The criticism ranged from not being like Michael Jordan, not being strong enough like Kobe Bryant and not doing enough to properly hydrate himself. “Well, the other players had to deal with the same conditions. Lebron, get over yourself..” leaves the mouth of viewers who may have never experienced a cramp while playing a sport.

Beyond the Lebron James factor, think about your own life. You may have experienced this in a similar way but not in the national spotlight. As soon as you fail to meet a standard or make a mistake, others around you or who strategically surround you pounce like a caged tiger, ready to devour you with their words. They were waiting for an opportunity, an opening to criticize your gift, your talent, your personhood, your character. But, like in the case of Lebron, most of those who criticize aren’t doing what you do or feeling what you feel. They are observing. They are watching how you time and time again rise above the naysayers and pursue your dreams and goals. Rather than supporting and encouraging, their bitterness turns to criticism devoid of any understanding and sensitivity. 

When you have those who mock, keep them in your prayers. The emptiness of their lives drives them to criticize the fullness in yours. In the case of Lebron James, if he retired right now, he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone but himself. He’s the type of athlete who has yet to reach his full potential and has already garnered top honors in the NBA and the sports world. You may have not reached your full potential, but you have achieved much. Keep striving. Keep pressing even in the midst of the mocking. Mocking is not blocking. The words of others will never block the Word of God over your life. -RF

BTW: Go Heat! (Much respect to the San Antonio Spurs)

Life Lessons from Bailey

Bailey was not only a pet; he was a member of our family. – Ryan

Yesterday, my family had to say goodbye to Bailey, our family dog for 13 years. In the recent months, his health had been declining from cataracts to a collapsed trachea. After losing his ability to walk, Bailey became increasingly frustrated and agitated. He wanted to walk, run, play and do the things he was used to doing. Now, it was time to say goodbye. Via FaceTime, I was blessed to join my family in saying goodbye at the local veterinarian. No doubt, February 7, 2014 was a tough day. Bailey was not only a pet; he was a member of our family. To honor his memory, I want to share some lessons I learned from his life.

Lesson #1: The Ministry of Presence

Bailey did what he was created to do — be a dog! As a part of his nature, Bailey knew instinctively when to come around you without any prompting. I remember the long days of college and seminary when stress levels were beyond human comprehension. As I was working or decompressing, Bailey would walk in my room and sit. He knew I needed his company. And he didn’t have to say a word. His presence was enough. Every holiday or family gathering, Bailey was in the center of the action (hoping to get some food too)!

Bailey had the ministry of presence. He was just…there. How we could all learn from this. Sometimes, we feel the insatiable need to say something or do something. Bailey taught me in simple ways to just be there in the moment.

Lesson #2: It’s Not That Serious

Admittedly, there are times when I can take life’s situations way too seriously. Bailey didn’t have time for that! The simple things gave him pleasure…good eats, nice weather, sitting in the sun, playing with his toys, and lapping up lots of water. When I would see Bailey, I would always say, “Man…what a life!” In my joking around, I realized a real life lesson — don’t take yourself so seriously. Enjoy every moment. This life and the time we have is precious.

Lesson #3: Move Forward

As I type these words, tears come to my eyes. Since my start at Seton Hall University in 2000, Bailey has been a part of every life moment — classes, work, transitions, family deaths, graduations, moving, and my own wedding (we had him wear a doggie tux at home). This Yorkshire terrier had the biggest of hearts in a tiny frame. But, he moved forward after bouts of sickness. Watching in real time was surreal and reminded me that life keeps moving forward. We cannot stop even with our futile attempts to do so.

Our family will mourn Bailey’s loss. We will cry and grieve. In the midst of the tears, we thank God for the gift of this small dog who brought large smiles to our faces everyday. Thank you Bailey for being you and in the process, learning from you. Thank you for a great 13 years. We will never forget you!