What My Obsessive Nature Says About My Spiritual Life

I am a guy who has obsessive tendencies. I once prided myself in reading weekly Sports Illustrated issues cover to cover before the next week’s issue arrived. I had a small transistor radio called the Street Beat that I carried around the house so I wouldn’t miss a pitch of a Texas Rangers’ baseball broadcast. This was done when I was a married man, with kids!

I have listened to everything Tim Bluhm and Mike Roe have ever recorded and obsessed over their best work and most memorable moments. Not a week goes by that I don’t make a reference to Friday Night Lights. I have run four marathons. Is there anything more obsessive than running marathons?

runner

How has this part of my personality helped my spiritual life?

Loyalty

I think, for one, I am not a binge obsessive. When I get into something, I am loyal to it for a long time. So, If I have a spiritual insight or inspiration, it will stick with me. For example, I have studied, memorized, read, and lived with the Sermon on the Mount for years and years and haven’t gotten tired of it. Parts of Psalm 23 still inspire as if I am reading them for the first time. Same with Colossians 3.

Stick to the Routine

If my routine gets off, it starts to bother me. This kind of rigidity obviously has its problems but also its advantages. If some kind of routine is required or prescribed, I am willing to adhere to it and not deviate. Every day may not be a breakthrough or an epiphany filled experience, but I trust the routine to bring something good coming my way.

mikeroe

I am  a Completist

I have tried to work on  this and  be willing to not finish certain things but my tendency is to complete anything that I start. This means, that I am able to fight through the emotional roller coaster that often marks the spiritual life. High points and joyous moments are great but if I am unwilling to fight through the frustrating times and the moments of uncertainty, then I wouldn’t be around for the pleasant moments that are waiting on the other side. I have learned to be okay with frustration.

My tendency to obsess over things is sometimes maddening, sometimes unfair to my loved ones, and sometimes a helpful trait to have. God created me in this way for some reason. Maybe, because he knew I might spend an obsessive amount of time writing this blog.

 

 

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The Day I Prayed For A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez sharing his thoughts on a calle...

Image via Wikipedia

Jesus tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who curse us (Matthew 5:44). I have prayed for terrorists in the past and even voiced a prayer that those who hate Christians will be exposed to the light of Jesus Christ. But one of the hardest people for me to pray for was not a terrorist or a natural enemy to the United States but a multi-millionaire third baseman for the New York Yankees baseball team.

I have never liked Alex Rodriguez, even when he played for my beloved Texas Rangers. I tried, but there just wasn’t anything about him that was appealing other than the fact that he could hit home runs in situations that made no difference to the outcome of a game. He seems incredibly self absorbed and someone who thinks all eyes are on him all the time and that people are just as obsessed with him as he is with himself. Towards the end of his tenure with the Rangers, he talked about how difficult it was for him to lead a “bunch of kids” in reference to the rest of the Texas team. He was a joke in my eyes and I wasn’t sad to see him go and thought him making it to the Yankees was rather appropriate given his inability to create a legacy of his own and that he was wimping out in order to ride the coattails of a famous organization and better winners such as Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

But then his play went south within a year of joining the Yankees. ARod became the butt of New York City jokes and late night talk show hosts. He was being booed nightly, not by fans in road contest, but by his own fans. They called him a “bum” and “sorry” and much worse. His family was falling apart and endless rumors were flying around about him. That was when I became convicted. I understand that sports hate is not the same as real hate and that sports enemies are not the same as real enemies but for forever I had been secure in my rationale for hating ARod and wishing him poor performance and failure. But in the midst of his lowest point as a Yankee I actually felt sorry for the guy and while I was mowing my grass, I lifted up a prayer for him and prayed that he would be better received by New York fans and that God would give him the ability to do his best in his next game. There I did it, I prayed for ARod. I felt better about myself, even like a burden had been lifted. I felt free in a sense. I guess anger and contempt really enslaves your soul and that forgiveness and genuine love breaks those barriers so we can experience love and peace.

I know this sounds silly but this incident was a sign of spiritual maturity for me. If faith is going to impact one part of my life, why can’t it impact all of it? How I thought about Alex Rodriguez and the hatred and anger I had towards him was really affecting my spiritual life and I needed to have a change of heart. Who knows, maybe I will pray for Kobe Bryant someday? Maybe.

Have you grown comfortable with your hatred of a public figure? A politician? A member of the media or Hollywood? Is it time for you to pray for your enemies?

My Elimination Experiment: Sports Fast

Texas Rangers (baseball)

Image via Wikipedia

Today ends my week long elimination experiment. In previous posts, I proposed that for one week we fast, or eliminate,  something that has an unusual hold on our attention or time. I chose to go a week fasting from sports. Here is how it went:

First of all, it was kind of a relief. With all of the hype and attention given to the Super Bowl I was ready for a break from 24/7 sports talk. Because I live in the Dallas area, I was interested in the analysis of DFW as a Super Bowl host city but I moved past that without much trouble.

What was really hard for me was not obsessing over the Michael Young saga. I am a lifetime Texas Rangers’ fan and a long time admirer of Michael Young. There is a possibility that he will be traded from the team that he has served faithfully for more than 10 years. Normally, I would follow all of the chatter and rumors surrounding this story and I did intentionally search this story out a couple of times but only to catch a headline about it and not to read every word on the topic.

What I found to be the most silly aspect was a sudden panic I felt last Thursday when I thought it was NBA All Star Weekend. I literally had this thought, “Oh no, am I missing the NBA All Star Game?” It was the exact same feeling I get when I miss an assignment or duty at work or forget to get an item at the grocery store; over a basketball game!

Honestly, I needed the break from sports and I think God knew what he was doing when he led me to do this. My life became really hectic and stressed this past week when our daughter when in for surgery, the class that I am teaching started to have papers to grade, and the small group that I am leading began. Plus, I am becoming more and more committed to pursuing many of the themes and emphasis of this blog and learning how I can share what I have learned with others. I appreciated the extra space in my life to see what God has in store for me in these areas.

Through my fast, I have, for a time, placed sports in its proper perspective while pursuing things that have broader meaning and significance. I haven’t decided exactly how I am going to break my fast officially but when I did turn on sports talk radio last night and heard talk about the NFL seven months in advance of its next season, I didn’t have too much of a desire to jump back into my previously sports obsessed existence.

How about you? Did you eliminate something last week? How did it go?