I recently read an interesting article in Forbes magazine regarding the unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck, the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. There were several items that stood out to me while reading this article. Andrew retired from a very promising career in football, leaving upwards of $500 million of unearned potential on the table because of both physical and emotional injuries. He said he lost his joy. The article went on to state that he had been sacked a league-high 156 times in the first 70 games of his career (ouch!) and that his offensive line had been mismanaged by the coach and had failed to protect him. The author went on to explain that in life we have tugs (things that happen to us that encourage and motivate us) and shoves (things that happen to us that discourage and demotivate us). Tugs are life giving, a source of joy, purpose and identity. Tugs make us laugh too. However, shoves are a whole different experience. Shoves, if not dealt with, can eventually overwhelm us to a place that we burn out, quit and call it a day. A friend of mine’s mother called shoves, “accumulated grievances.” I love that.
I have recently been thinking more about the shoves then the tugs. I think it’s because it’s the source of more pain and discomfort, and if we don’t handle them well, we risk alot. Sometimes I shove back too. Perhaps we all feel like we are being shoved around a little bit more than normal these days. I do believe that sometimes God allows us to drift into a season of shoves (discouragement) to simply demonstrate a point… let me explain.
When we become discouraged, we must dissect the feelings and facts associated with that discouragement. The feelings often stem from an overwhelming sense of inadequacy, fear, failure etc. The facts are often a mirage, but if and when they do reveal themselves, invariably they are not as bad as we may have perceived at first. However, sometimes because of a real situation such as physical pain, loss of work or a difficult relationship, our discouragement is legitimized. When discouraged, we tend to do one of two things…we either disconnect, isolate and hide or we seek a distraction, find somewhere to hide or something to numb the situation, sometimes convincing ourselves everything is fine. The common theme in all of this is our default to self-reliance and self-perspective. However, overtime we become aware of just how incapable we are of taking care of ourselves and of putting our situation in its proper place and perspective. I have often asked God to help me be suspicious of myself. Learning to suspect my perspectives, my interpretations, my opinions and my ideas is a first step toward humility.
Therefore, let’s remember one thing…. God is watching, as an ever-present lifeguard, waiting for us to admit that we simply are not capable; we are overwhelmed, lost and perhaps even wrong (The Fonz had a hard time saying he was wrong too). We eventually get to a place where we admit that we actually desperately need our God…. and His proximity is so very close.
I find it interesting that something that we may want to avoid at all costs, a shove, may actually be a tool in God’s world that draws us to Him and reminds of just how much we need Him. The idea of daily surrender sounds nice, but we so often default to daily survival… the everyman for himself kind of thinking. A very scary prayer to pray, if you are an adrenalin junkie, is to ask God to keep you dependent on Him. Some of us are so independent and so proud of our independence and accomplishments, (and we actually get awards for it) that the idea of being weak and fully needing God all the time is an anathema to us. The world that I live in rewards me for being independent all the while wrapping my ego and pride in really nice “God talk” with a few Bible verses sprinkled here and there like garnishing a rotten meal with violets, sliced almonds and some cilantro.
Shoving or tugging others
I am also prone to think about how many times I may be the source of a shove or a tug. The closer I am in proximity to Jesus the greater the likelihood of creating tugs for those around me. The more self-centered I am the greater the likelihood of creating shoves for those around me. I have been the source of both. I look at the life of Jesus, and His entire existence was to be a source of tugs. However, did Jesus ever shove? Remember that a shove is defined as a de-motivator. Therefore, what if my motivation is toxic and the shove that I just got from Jesus was designed to get me to see things His way versus my way. I can’t argue with that because He is Jesus. However, the caution for me is that I may rationalize a shove in my state of self-righteousness, believing that my shove is my way of doing God’s work. This can be a very slippery slope.
Shoves and tugs, they often work together. I love my tugs and I hate my shoves. However, as I surrender to my God every day, I am reminded that He is there in the midst of it all and He has the unique ability to use it all for His glory. I am sorry for the times I have shoved because of my own stuff, and I am humbled to know God used me to give a tug. I am grateful for the tugs that come my way, and I must also be grateful for the shoves because God is using them both to do His work in me.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.