Men (and women) fall from grace every day. Every hour. Every minute. The flesh is weak.
Ask anyone I know and they’ll tell you that I don’t give a hoot about college football. SEC or any other conference. There is MSU memorabilia scattered throughout my house, but it’s my husband’s, not mine.
I claim no allegiance. To a school. To a coach. To a player. I’m just an observer of the entire scene that surrounds college athletics and its superfans.
And here’s what I observe:
The coaches and players of the SEC take on an almost rock star status among those that love the conference and their team with passion and fervor. And I might be about to commit southern heresy here, but I’m going to say it anyway:
It’s just a game. They’re just men. All of them. Coaches. Players. They are all fallible human beings with struggles and corruptable hearts. Just like you. Just like me. Just like everyone else on planet Earth.
I’ve seen good men (and women) fall. It’s not pretty. If we’ve built them up in our minds at all, it can be an uncomfortable, painful thing to witness.
First, we think about how much they’ve disappointed us. Hurt other people. We call them selfish, hypocrites. We cast our stones either publicly or privately, in the recesses of our own hearts and minds.
I hurt for Coach Freeze’s family. Their pain and humiliation is on a public stage that isn’t fair for them to have to navigate. But I’ll tell you someone else that I hurt for: the man himself.
I have experienced my own shame. Disappointed others that I love more than life. Rejected all that I knew and believed about a God that I tried to serve for something that satisfied my own selfish desires. And there is no excuse for it. But the flesh is weak.
I don’t hurt for the legions of Ole Miss fans. Not because I wish them ill, but because the world of football is so ridiculously minute compared to what is happening to this man and his family.
I’ve seen people talk about how much this coach was paid. All of his accomplishments during his time with the University. And it’s true. The man seemingly had everything going for him. He spoke publicly and willingly about his Christian faith. And I’m going to choose to believe that he was sincere about it. Not because of his words, but because from what I know about his actions outside the public eye. He does his best to live his faith. But the flesh is weak.
Truthfully, it’s on those mountaintops of life when we might actually be more susceptible to falling from grace. Because it seems, there, that nothing can touch us.
I wonder, as I often do, what was going on with the man and his family, behind the scenes. What drove him to his deceit. There is much that we will never know. And rightly so, because it’s none of our business.
Granted, I’m sure I’d probably have stronger feelings if he was coaching my son. But these are not children. These are young men. Impressionable still? Of course. But better for them to see that even our heroes make mistakes than for them to spend a lifetime pursuing perfection that doesn’t exist. In any of us. For any of us. There might be a better lesson in this whole situation that could teach these players more than anything their coach could have taught them on the field.
The pain we inflict upon ourselves and others with the choices we make leaves a mark, yes. Scars will be left on Coach Freeze’s heart and the hearts of his wife and children forever. He failed them. He failed himself. And I cannot help but feel deep compassion for them all.
But if he is willing, if his family is willing, redemption can be found.
Maybe not in the public eye, but if that’s all they care about, then it will never come anyway.
Personal redemption is what I speak of. A chance for pain and grieving to be turned into something strong and beautiful.
Nothing about it will be easy. It will require consistent and steady applications of grace, forgiveness, and the understanding that, yes, no matter who you are, the flesh is weak.
I have no envy of the road the Freeze family is walking. Its curves and potholes and detours are familiar to me.
I don’t know the man or his family. But I know pain. One of the great equalizers in this life. And love Ole Miss or hate Ole Miss, college allegiance doesn’t matter.
What matters in the response. The response of the Coach, owning and accepting his mistakes. The response of his family, letting it mold and perfect their faith in one way or another. And our response, it matters too. Maybe not to this family, but our response to others when they fall matters infinitely, to their hearts and our own.
If you call yourself a Christian, our first duty is that of love. Whether it’s a public figure you admire and respect or someone in your personal life. The response should be the same. Love.
People disappoint us every day. Can we extend grace? The flesh, after all, is weak. Isn’t it much easier to cast our stones?
Good men (and women) fall from grace every day. It’s our job, our responsibility as Christians, to help them back up. Remind them of the endless grace that is free and abundant to all.
True, it’s easier said than done. I know this. But our own integrity as Christians who claim to believe in Love, grace, forgiveness, and the power of redemption demands it of us. Even when, especially when, it’s hard.
After all, you never know when you might need these things too. And my guess is, you, as I, need them every day.