For awhile I have been someone that catches flack. At first this surprised and confused me, especially because it only started happening when I found my rhythm and purpose in life. After some time I settled into the flack simply being part of my role and came to peace with with it. Time and time again, who I am just naturally stirs the pot. I don’t try to be controversial…I just don’t realize how far gone I am compared to others. Honestly, it is innocent. My norm is other people’s extreme, and I forget that. For a long time I was ashamed of how I am hardwired and was convinced that there must be something wrong with me, a hidden issue, something I am not willing to look at, etc. But now I am realizing this is the not the case.
I’ve never been interested in watching basketball, but this year I started watching the Warriors because a friend turned me on to Steph Curry. It was an amazing season to watch. Steph is a believer and I loved watching him win, or lose. But what I learned by watching the Warriors play this year went way deeper than winning or losing. I watched this guy deal with incredible highs….then incredible lows. I cannot imagine the kind of pressure he, or anyone on the court, deals with. People that have never been in the spotlight have no idea the kind of mental oppression people go through just to bring a good word or play a good game.
First off, something became extremely clear to me as I watched Steph during the season, wherein he broke many records and absolutely dominated on the court; People will hate you just because you are good at something. It is the most curious thing. See, people will love you for being amazing, but they will also deeply hate you. The logic behind this reality is incredibly inconsistent. Basically this means that whether you do well or don’t do well, if you simply have greatness on your life, you will ALWAYS garner dislike from people. There is no escaping it. It is a force, a rule.
For my whole life I thought there was something wrong with me. No joke. I still deal with this. I deal with this not because me or anyone close to me sees anything specific that is wrong with me, but because of the consistency by which people get offended with anything I do; be it a movie, a book I wrote, a FB post, or a sermon I gave. It doesn’t matter; someone always has a problem with something.
Then it clicked: People, particularly rigidly religious people, consistently have a hard time with what I do not because I have a hidden issue or am generally screwed up….and it isn’t because they are screwed up either….but simply because I am good at what I do. Steph taught me a very simple lesson: If you become awesome, you will garner dislike, disrespect, and dishonor. It is assured. This is completely befuddling because from day one society teaches us that if you do well, you are rewarded. But that is in fact not true. If you do well, you may be rewarded, but if you excel past that and really begin to change the world or break records, you will be hated.
Only succeed to a degree? Don’t rock the boat? What kind of messed up logic is that? Sometimes the boat needs to be sunk so you can learn to walk on water.
It gets worse. If you do well, ironically both people loving you and people disliking you is flawed. If they dislike you, they dislike you because you are awesome. And if they like you, they LOVE you: They act like you are their personal savior. You can feel it and know it isn’t right, so you try to embody what they need for their sake, but you also know how hollow and unsubstantial you are in the long run, so you try to direct them to Someone else to praise, but they don’t want to do that, they want YOU. At least for the moment.
Then, suddenly you don’t do well. Maybe because you and your wife got in an argument the day before and it completely debilitated your heart because it felt like she was the only one in your corner and now you aren’t even sure about that. Maybe because you overcompensated by drinking too much coffee the day before and as a result you couldn’t sleep that night so you just laid in bed looking at the ceiling knowing that tomorrow is a huge day and you need rest but instead, there you were, wide awake, until the sun came up and it was time crawl out of bed and perform on zero sleep. Maybe because your kid fell down and you spent the whole night getting no sleep because you were in the ER so they could get stitches when you are supposed to preach on healing the next day. You not only are exhausted, but you can already feel the criticism of, “If you have had people get healed in the past, why don’t you just heal your kid?” Whatever the reason, you don’t do well the next day and it is no surprise to you because you were the only one that knew what you were up against. Everyone else has no idea, not your close friends or even your spouse, and not because they don’t care but because they are simply not you. Nobody else knows the feeling of “alone” that claws at your heart even when you are with those you love, or the pressure you push down and ignore until you can’t feel it anymore, or how it feels to have that many people locking their eyes on you with judgement or over-exultation in their hearts, or how long you spend each day just trying to cling to truth and courage rather than relenting to the siren-like lure of the opinions of critics that have never pulled off even an ounce of what you have accomplished but frame themselves as experts.
In the end, its all on you and nobody else. No pressure: Its just your life and the well being of your family on the line.
And because you didn’t do well, people gut you. And I don’t mean they privately take you aside and tell you what you did wrong, but they take it upon themselves to let the whole world know how screwed up you are. Not that you made mistakes because you are a human, but that you are a total failure. That it’s over. That there is no hope for you to ever succeed again. Its like every good thing you did prior to this makes no difference. The teeth come out. They cheer and rejoice over your mistakes. People you have never met make terrible memes about you and your family, write blogs about your “real” motives, make videos about how dumb you are, and suddenly everyone becomes an authority on what you could have done better (as though you didn’t already know). Everywhere you look, someone has a problem with you. Last week they praised you but now its like they want to tack you up on a tree and leave you for dead.
It becomes clear that you need to batten down the hatches, circle up the wagons, hold your kids a little longer today, and let your your heart flee to the only place that is safe: The Tower. So you run inside Him and fortify yourself until the war wanes.
Steph taught me that people will hate you just because you are good at something. Steph taught me that despite people hating you for no good reason at all, you still have to go out there and try your best: its your job to rock the boat. Steph taught me to ignore man, whether their words are good or bad, praises or criticism, because both are unsubstantial and fickle. Steph taught me to put my head down and press on, win or lose, sink or swim. Thanks Steph. Good game.