Sunday, November 13, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "No Exceptions"

The music was the usual, old-time favorites, as I burrowed deeper into another day of cleaning gutters, raking leaves and winterizing the back yard. The early 70’s hit “Everybody Plays the Fool” was on the radio.

Here’s a little history. The song rose to number three on the charts in 1972. I recall that year well. My older brother was a high school senior and played for the Raytown South Cardinals who, that year, won their second Missouri state basketball title under legendary coach Bud Lathrop. I later played for the incredible coach and owe much to him. I remember the man, year and song with fondness.

According to Wikipedia, a trio, The Main Ingredient, recorded the song which was nominated for a Grammy the following year. For Cuba Gooding, Sr., Tony Silvester and Luther Williams, Jr. it was their biggest hit as a team. I’ve always loved the lyrics for their truth: we all have “played the fool” a few times in life, right? The subsequent lyrics certainly suggest that, stating - “no exceptions to the rule.”

In those “What the heck is going on here?” moments, the question becomes, “How are we going to react? Are we going to learn from the experience or become a victim of the circumstance? You know the best answer. Easier said than done, right? It’s easy to talk about turning life’s lemons into - heck with lemonade - sweet and savory margaritas but far more difficult to accomplish. We’ve been hit from the blindside and it’s a struggle to rise and fight again - do. My buddy Bill McCartney would say, “sometimes you have to lie on the battle field, bleed a little, then rise and march on.”

Amen brother.

Back to “Everybody Plays the Fool” and the lyrics, “no exception to the rule” and their importance to dealing with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Here it is. When we’ve played the fool it’s critical to repent to anyone we’ve harmed but equally important to forgive ourselves. We can’t keep dragging that hurt and disappointment around with us. It’s like a beer belly, easy to notice and not good for us.

I have always loved in the Bible what it says in Colossians. The Apostle Paul, writing while imprisoned in Rome, encourages folks in Colosse - western Turkey along the Lycus River today - to “be gentle and forgiving, never hold a grudge; remember the Lord forgave us, we must forgive others.” I have always tried like heck to live that truth, would encourage you to try the same and would like to add a bit to the “forgive others” end of the verse: “starting with ourselves.”

We can’t, or shouldn’t, beat ourselves up too long. We have to rise, dust ourselves off and move on down the road. It ain’t easy - few rewarding things in life are, right? - but try and stay focused on learning from the experience and determined to become superior to our former selves in ways honoring, nurturing and adding value to the communities we serve - home, work and elsewhere.

The song ended and for a bit, so did the yard work. A song tugged the heart strings, activated the spirit and inspired me to share what crashed into cranium. In conclusion, can I tell ya something? I hope and pray a few encouraging words about not beating ourselves up is received as intended: everybody plays the fool; there are no exceptions to the rule but hang in there, persevere, learn and grow.

Blessings to ya and good luck!

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