pick a number — any number

So let’s try this a different way today, seeing if we can describe the excellent, insightful meme…

You stand here. On the “X.”

I’ll stand directly across from you — only 10 feet away. On the “Y.”

Smack-dab in the middle of us — equidistant from us both — you see right in front of you, the number “6.”

You see it. You’re close to it. It’s not blurry in any sort of way. It is clearly a “6.” No doubt about it.

I, on the other hand, see the number “9.”

I’m close to it. It’s not blurry. It’s clearly a “9.” No doubt about it.

I’m convinced I’m right… and I am.

You’re convinced you’re right… and you are.

Two different people see the same thing totally differently; in fact, from my vantage point, it is totally impossible for me to see what you see.

From your vantage point, it’s impossible for you to see what I see.

And yet, we are both correct.

What would it change in our dialogue, discussion, and our respect for one another, if we had were patient enough to take the time necessary to invest in deep discernment? … to do the work that it takes that truly wrestles with the perspectives and conclusions of another — and to realize that even though we come from different perspectives and make different conclusions, we are both still, humbly, profoundly right?

Two different perspectives can both be right.

Two strikingly, starkly different perspectives can both be right.

“It’s a ‘6’!”

“It’s a ‘9’!”

It’s actually both.

Can we realize that?


defined by adversity

Oh, the love of a great story! … even better when it’s non-fiction.

Note the ongoing tale of Shaquem Griffin, who college football fans know as the fastest linebacker in this year’s draft class — and non-football fans will appreciate learning all in life he’s overcome. And not just “overcome.” He has amazingly surpassed and achieved.

Note: Griffin has only one hand.

Because of that one hand, people are tempted to see Griffin differently. Isn’t that the truth? We see only singular traits in other people… a physical feature, an emotional bent, a political passion — and then we judge them on that. That becomes all we see… and it sadly affects all we think about them.

For Griffin, what he’s missing has the potential to affect more than what he offers and has.

He recently wrote to NFL general managers as they consider his worthiness to be drafted. In his excellent, insightful, and sometimes fairly raw account, Griffin inspires and teaches us all…

“Nobody was ever going to tell me that I didn’t belong on a football field. And nobody was ever going to tell me that I couldn’t be great.

I rode that mentality all the way through high school. I got picked on because of my hand and I had guys trash-talk me and stuff like that, but most of the time, I just ignored it. On the football field, I got off to kind of a slow start adjusting to the high school game, but eventually I grew to be a leader and a team captain…

I’m not going to get into an explanation of the condition I was born with that prevented the fingers of my left hand from fully developing. Or talk about the time when I was four years old and I tried to cut my own fingers off with a kitchen knife because I was in constant pain. Or about when I got my left hand amputated shortly after. That’s stuff you probably already know about anyway — and if you don’t, you can Google it. The story is out there. And it’s not some sob story or anything like that. It’s not even a sad story — at least not to me. It’s just … my story…

In our backyard, we had a couple of stacks of cinder blocks with a stick across the top, like a hurdle. And when we would run routes, we would have to jump over the hurdle and do other obstacles mid-route. Then my dad would throw us the ball, and he’d throw it hard, right at our chest. And every time we dropped it, he would say, ‘Nothing comes easy’…

I don’t define myself by my successes. I define myself by adversity, and how I’ve persevered…

I’ve had people doubt me my whole life, and I know that there are a lot of kids out there with various deformities or birth defects or whatever labels people want to put on them, and they’re going to be doubted, too. And I’m convinced that God has put me on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to show people that it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, because people are going to doubt you regardless. That’s a fact of life for everybody, but especially for those with birth defects or other so-called disabilities.

The important thing is that you don’t doubt yourself.

I feel like all the boys and girls out there with birth defects … we have our own little nation, and we’ve got to support each other, because everybody in this world deserves to show what they can do without anybody telling them they can’t.

I know there are some scouts and coaches — and even some of you GMs out there — who are probably doubting me, and that’s O.K. I get it. I only have one hand, and because of that, there have always been people who have questioned whether or not I could play this game.

If you’re one of those GMs who believes that I can play in the NFL, I just want to say thank you. I appreciate you, and I’m excited for the opportunity to play for you and prove you right. And if one you’re of those who is doubting me … well, I want to thank you, too. Because you’re what keeps me motivated every day to work hard and play even harder. Back when I was eight years old, I played because I loved the game. I still do. But now, I also play because I believe it’s my purpose. I know that it won’t come easy. Nothing comes easy. But I will fulfill that purpose. I have no doubt.”

I’m struck by Griffin’s articulateness, poise, confidence and humility, and his clear recognition of both God’s creation and his individual purpose.

So wise… and so good.


my opinion

Please read each of the following ten statements thoughtfully and carefully:

  • All semi-automatic weapons should be banned.
  • Jesus is coming back tomorrow.
  • One of the presidential candidates in the 2016 election was clearly better than the other one.
  • Abortion should be legal in every circumstance.
  • Businesses should stay out of politics.
  • The church should stay out of politics.
  • Hollywood should stay out of politics.
  • Every woman who claims #MeToo is telling the truth.
  • Government is too big.
  • Social media has been disastrous.

Each of the above has been averred at sometime, somewhere, by someone, passionately, emphatically, on social media or elsewhere — maybe even on the Intramuralist.

Here’s the challenge: each of the above is an opinion.

Let’s be clear. An opinion is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.”

Let me add two more relevant definitions. First, a preference is the act of “liking better or best.” And second, a conviction is “the state of being convinced.”

In other words, a preference is a liking; an opinion is a judgment or belief; and a conviction is a certainty — it’s something I’d die for.

For example, I like Purdue basketball; I believe they are incredibly talented this year; but as much as I want them to — and have convinced myself that it is going to happen — there is no guarantee that Purdue will win the NCAA tournament; it is not certain.

The challenge exists, though, when I state the above — stating my strong preference and opinion — as something it is not; it is not conviction. As much as I might want my beloved Boilermakers to be standing amidst the falling confetti when “One Shining Moment” is played, my passion and resolve do not make my opinion more certain.

And that’s where our intelligence gets in the way. We think we’re smart; we think we know what’s right; we think we’ve got it all figured out. So we approach things smartly — not wisely.

Wisdom and intelligence are two totally different things. Intelligence is smarts, brains, and mental capacity. But wisdom is something more. Wisdom adds discernment, self-awareness, and sensitivity toward others.

As thus said frequently in my household, wisdom is more important than intelligence. I may have a son with a cognitive disability who doesn’t score exceptionally well on standard IQ tests, but that same son is incredibly, incredibly wise. Wisdom is always more important.

It is only via wisdom, friends, that we learn the difference between preference, opinion, and conviction. Hence, if we could learn that — if we could be a wise people — our conversations, relationships, and even social media status would be far better… and far more respectful of all those around us.

Respectfully… always…

in state or in honor

Henry Clay was the first.

Jacob Joseph Chestnut and John Michael Gibson were a first.

Later it would be Rosa Parks.

Yesterday it was Billy Graham.

Yesterday afternoon, the body of America’s most famous evangelist lied in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. According to the Architect of the Capitol, “The Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol has been considered the most suitable place for the nation to pay final tribute to its most eminent citizens by having their remains lay in state or in honor.”

“Lying in state” ceremonies are typically reserved for deceased presidents and other elected officials. “Lying in honor” has become the utilized phrase for those who served us in a non-elected capacity.

Allow me to highlight a few additional, key words…

Most “eminent”… meaning illustrious, distinguished, renowned, esteemed, noteworthy, great, prestigious, important, influential, affluential, outstanding…

“Honor”… meaning integrity, honesty, uprightness, ethics, morals, morality, principles, high principles, righteousness, high-mindedness, virtue, goodness, decency, probity, character, scrupulousness, worth, fairness, justness, trustworthiness, reliability, dependability…

And yet I’m struck by how many intentionally dishonor… thinking Chestnut, Gibson, Parks or Graham — the only private citizens given such an honor — were somehow undeserving…

(… oh, how we let our differences get in the way of what’s right sometimes…)

Chestnut and Gibson were U.S. Capitol Police officers killed at the Capitol in the line of duty on July 24, 1998. They stopped a gunman in the Capitol, and were the first private citizens ever given the distinction of “lying in honor” in the Rotunda.

Parks was deemed “the first lady of civil rights,” after she first bravely refused to give up her bus seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger, after the whites-only section was filled. Her act of defiance and continued advocacy infamously inspired many. When she passed away in 2005 at the age of 92, Parks became the first woman and the second black person to lie in honor in the Capitol.

And Graham was one of the most influential preachers of the 20th century. He was a friend to each President — regardless of party — and he helped millions from varied backgrounds, ethnicities, and demographics. Through his teaching and exhortation, those millions learned what it meant to love God and one another. He rested in honor yesterday.

Perhaps my favorite picture from yesterday’s memorial was the one of gathered senators, spouses, and other congressmen, cabinet members, family members, etc. — each still, with eyes closed, heads bowed, and mouths shut.

At that moment, partisanship didn’t matter.

Self-focus didn’t matter.

Difference didn’t matter.

All that mattered was honoring another.

Oh, we have much to learn…