By: Staci Stallings
Judge not, lest ye be judged. –Matthew 7:1
The call was controversial—just as all really close calls in baseball are. Full speed the runner slid home and thinking he had just scored a game-altering run, he stood up only to face the words, “You’re out!”
Now you know how it is when you’ve given your all to an effort and you stand up, only to hear the ump say, “You’re out!” Just running for home when the play could be that close takes confidence and determination, not to mention a certain amount of competitiveness that doesn’t just evaporate when you stand up. And it didn’t with this teenager either.
Furious, he threw off his helmet and ran over to explain to the ump in no uncertain terms why the call was wrong, why the ump needed glasses, and why he was clearly home and nobody could miss that call so badly. Before his temper really got out of hand, someone pulled him away, and he walked to the bench—livid.
God sees not as man sees…but the Lord looks at the heart. –1 Samuel 16:7
If this first spectacle was all you saw of the matter, don’t fret—it was all almost everyone saw. But now, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the story…”
Long after the coaches, players, and fans had gone home, this typical teenage boy realized the impact of his decisions at home plate. Like most of us do when we are faced with the embarrassment of our actions, he could very well have made the logical next choice and just let it slide, reasoning: “Everybody does it. The ump’s probably heard that stuff a million times.”
However, in the silence of his heart, this young man knew that just because everyone else does it, that doesn’t make it all right. And so, long after his buddies had gone home, he tracked that ump back up to the school—not to vandalize his car and not to further harangue him. No, this typical teenage boy tracked this man down so he could tell him face-to-face: “I’m sorry, Sir. I was wrong.”
It takes true courage to stand up in the face of those everyday indiscretions we all make and say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” What makes this apology even more unique is that it wasn’t meant for the world to hear, it wasn’t meant to make the apologizer look better in the eyes of anyone else. It was meant simply as a way to stay true to his own heart.
In reality the story may well have ended there, and no one would have been the wiser. However, on the way out of town, the ump saw the superintendent and flagged him down to express his appreciation and surprise at the boy’s apology. But the ump wasn’t the only one who was surprised. The superintendent later talked to the coach to say how impressed he was that the coach had sent the boy to apologize. Only problem: The coach hadn’t sent him and knew nothing about the apology until that very moment.
A few days later the coach ran into the boy’s father and remarked how impressed he was that his parents had sent the boy to apologize. You guessed it—they knew nothing about it either!
Our truest actions are those that come from the heart—not what someone makes us do because it’s the right thing. I know, however, that although the parents didn’t intervene on this occasion, they had intervened enough times in the past for this boy to have the ultimate courage and try to remedy a situation when it would have been easier to reason, “He’ll get over it.”
The truth is at one time or another we have all been this boy—acting out in rage, saying hurtful things, and feeling justified for doing so. The real test comes later when we are presented with the choice to make amends or to walk away thinking, “Ah, they’ll get over it.”
Maybe the “they’ll” is a co-worker, a customer, a friend, a sibling, a child, or a spouse. Whomever it is, don’t pass up the opportunity to get right with your own heart. Don’t let them walk off the field and drive out of town, thinking, “Oh, well. No big deal. They’ll get over it.” The time for apology is now!
Courage is a matter of the heart. I wish that every person in the whole world had the courage of this one typical teenager. If they did, just imagine what “typical” might come to mean! (And a last caveat: The whole world starts with YOU!)