In a moment of self-evaluation, it recently occurred to me that I have been existing under a cloud that I wasn’t even aware of. I couldn’t understand why I don’t seem to be progressing in many aspects of my life. I don’t seem to have the drive to accomplish difficult things that I did when I was younger. I just assumed that it was un unfortunate result of getting older.
I stay busy and, to all appearances seem to be accomplishing a lot. I read my Bible every day. I do a short devotional in the morning and at night. I’m actively involved in my church as part of the worship team and as ministry manager for CCADA (Cornerstone Christian Artists Day Apart). And I write this weekly blog. I’m faithful in attendance and in tithes and offerings. I volunteer to help our local library and also our town’s historical society. And these things are not just solo activities; they all include my wife of 43 years. We’re not rich, but we own our own home are able to go on nice vacations. So why did I have this nagging feeling of failure in my personal life?
God has probably been providing me with the answer since “Day 1.” But I simply haven’t been in a state of mind to hear Him. For many years, I was blessed by being able to work as a teacher, coach and youth pastor. I loved what I was doing and looked forward to going to work every day. Then one day, while I was in the middle of teaching a class, I was abruptly summoned to the school office. Someone on the girls’ basketball team had accused me of touching them inappropriately. Understand, that I had no idea what they were talking about. But because the accusation had been made, there had to be an inquiry conducted by the school administration and the State Police. I had to hire an attorney. After many meetings, none which allowed me to meet with my accusers or their parents, everyone realized that I was never alone with any of my accusers and that when I was with them as a group, nothing ever occurred which could be misinterpreted as improper behavior. Yet, to placate the families involved, I was forced to finish the season out with a female observer to make sure I behaving properly. Strangely enough, the female they chose was one of my former players and my next-door neighbor. This was despite the fact that everyone but my accusers realized that the accusations were unfounded. The girls involved were never reprimanded for their accusations. I continued to coach for a few years after that, but I had lost the joy that I previously enjoyed. Because there were no consequences for these girls and kids being kids, the story of my “problem” was spread from female to female, leading to more issues as time went on. Eventually, I retired, worn out from trying to “prove” myself.
I don’t know if things would have been different if the girls had been held accountable for their actions, but I believe that my life would have been a lot easier my last few years of teaching. Instead, fearing the possibility of a civil lawsuit or even criminal action, they “threw me under the bus” and left me dangling all by myself despite my innocence.
I thought I had gotten over it, but I hadn’t. I had buried it in the back of my mind, where it had remained, festering, and affecting everything from my thoughts about myself to my actions. So instead of having peace in my heart, I had pain and bitterness. Pursue peace with all, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord: watching lest there be any one who lacks the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and many be defiled by it. (Hebrews 12:14-15)
I Peter 3:16-17 says it best, Keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. Not only should I keep a good conscience, I have to remember that Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
God has always had everything under control–me, my accusers, their parents, the administration, the state police, and even the “bus.” God gave them authority over all things. Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. (Hebrews 2:8)
For all these years I had forgotten that. I won’t anymore.