1/17/13

In the Same Boat - Compassion for Manti Te'o

About ten years ago my wife and I attended a concert simply because we had been given tickets. We weren't particularly excited about the band. We hadn't seen them before. It seemed like it could be a fun night, so we went.

Sitting in front of me was a couple about our age. They were clearly there because they loved the band. They were enthusiastically talking about the band and their music with everyone around them. They eventually turned back toward us and asked me a question. 

"Have you ever seen this band play?" 

For reasons I'm not completely sure of I replied, "Yes. They played at my college when I was a freshman." 

I can assure you with complete confidence this band had never played at David Lipscomb University in the mid 90's. And even if they had, I wouldn't have gone. I lied. Quickly and naturally. It came out of me without an ounce of effort or premeditation. I didn't even like the band. Up to this point these people had kind of been annoying me. I didn't feel any need for their approval or interest. But in that moment, the abundance of my heart flowed from my mouth in an unnecessary and self-protecting lie. Had they pushed deeper into my story I have no doubt the lie would have become bigger. 

As the details surrounding the Manti Te'o story unfold, it's becoming apparent that something doesn't add up. The humiliation and complexities of the story are snowballing faster than the initial hoax. I don't know if he was lying about the whole thing, found himself completely taken in an elaborate prank, or if some combination of the two exists. What I am convinced of is that the significant difference between his tales and my own lie in degree and not root cause. 

We're all in the same boat with this young man. We've all taken stories far beyond the places we've intended them to go. We all know that anyone demanding to know why he did whatever he did isn't being completely honest with themselves. We never understand all of the reasons we do the messed up and poisonous things that we do. 

Sports stories become human interest stories for two reasons. They are either full of redemption or scandal. Whether you care about football or not this story is going to come at you this week. In a world that invites millions to take a shot at comedy and fame through Twitter and comment sections I hope to be part of an invitation to compassion. I don't know why he did whatever he did anymore than he does. However, I'm fairly confident he and I are both aware today that our hearts are bent toward behaviors that are robbing us of freedom and peace. 

Two Recommendations 

As I listened to the story unfold I thought of a sermon and a song. I'm providing the links here. The sermon is called Liars and the Truth and was given by my friend and pastor, Thomas McKenzie. 


The second is a song by my friend Andy called I Haven't Either


Lets all hope for freedom and peace for Manti and for the rest of us who are desperate for the both. 

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