Saturday, August 14, 2010

Strength and Love

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu

I think the story of Tiger Woods is very important and needs to be studied from more than the perspective of a person who achieved greatness and threw it away by thinking himself infalable. It needs to be examined as more than just a sports hero who rose and fell. More than a marketing disaster. More than a tragedy of failed family values. Tiger seems to have a lesson for everyone.

The most important lesson, in my opinion, has to do with the effects of love. Tiger was once so loved that people watched golf just to see him play. People admired him. They loved the story that they thought was real. I can only imagine the energy that used to be on the course while he played. The love that people extended to him, I believe, was what made him a super star. It must have started as a little boy and he learned how to absorb that love and use it to give him focus and courage.

Now that he has lost that love, he can't perform the same way. He is no longer a beloved hero. He is ridiculed by comedians. The energy on the course while he plays must be very different now. People whispering, watching, gawking, judging, sniggering. The massive waves of love that moved him are gone.

Such is the power of love and the withholding of love.

I once read a unique perspective on Satan in a book about angels. It was kind of scary for me, being raised in a southern Baptist background. I say it is unique because it is different from what I was told as a child, yet I have also read that this is a Judaic view of Satan. This perspective was one that spoke of a strange gratitude to Satan. It painted the picture of an angel who agreed to do a job for God, to be the keeper of the dark side, to be the initiator of temptation. He knew that he would be reviled and feared, but his love for God was greater than his desire to be loved. God wanted us to have a contradiction to love so people would choose the path of love rather than just complacently accept it. The author's point was that everything is a creation of God, and that we have choices because God wants us to have choices. In this story, Satan performs his duty of dangling the dangerous temptations of the material world and we decide whether we want to please our ego or please our God.

It's an odd thing to think about. Anyone with any smidgen of fundamentalist religion in their background must get a little chill at thinking kindly on Satan. I am not convinced that there is a being in the form of a dark angel who tempts us, beyond being a metaphor, but it is an interesting concept to ponder.

People who achieve greatness and then lose it in scandal probably don't see themselves as performing a service for mankind, but they really do if we pay attention. If we look away from the judgments and the ridicule of such people and just learn from what happened, we can transend many of the trials of living in the material existence. We can mentally put ourselves in their shoes and feel the pain, feel the loss, know the effects, and make a choice to never fall victim to similar temptation. I think it is like the lesson of Jesus in the desert - that we don't have to really experience a mistake to know what it will do to our lives.

Perhaps we can find a new way to love Tiger Woods. Maybe not the way he wishes he could be loved. But we can appreciate the sacrifice he has made during his time here on earth, having to live the rest of his life under the shadow of so many lessons we can all learn from.

I'm sure most people have heard a version of this:
For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom men have committed much, from him they will ask the more. Luke 12:48
And, then there is this simple quote, which sums up it all up for me.

If you want to be loved, be lovable. - Ovid