I’m about to admit an embarrassing fact about the television habits in my house. Here goes. Much to my daughter’s chagrin, we are Hallmark watchers. Christmas really gets us and then we’re hooked. So there. It’s out. There’s a series we’ve watched on that network from which one of the main characters was fired (in real life) because of her involvement with her husband in a scandal. Several days ago news broke about a college admissions scandal here in the U.S. She’s in the headline.
You know how, when you watch someone in a certain role on TV, you feel like you sort of know them — how they’d react, how they seem to treat others, and how you think they live their lives? Well, let’s just say that we were completely shocked she is a part of this nonsense. She seems so selfless, sweet, caring, generous. And really she could be all those things. Now, obviously I don’t know her and I don’t have any idea what the details are around the facts of what’s happened. I only know what I’ve read. So I’ll leave the specifics of that to your own investigation - but it has made me think.
I wonder when it happened.
I wonder what the steps were.
I don’t think anyone woke up one day and said, I think I’ll check with some coaches and an admissions headhunter and see if they’ll accept several hundred thousand dollars in exchange for admitting my daughter to their school (even though she couldn’t make the team or she doesn’t have the grades). Don’t you think it probably started a little smaller than that? Don’t you think there were probably some smaller compromises before that crazy big one? Do you ever wonder how someone crossed the line to “this isn’t that big of deal”? Cheating on a test may not seem like that big of a deal but cheating on a spouse is. Lying about where you were when you were just on the golf course may not seem like that big of a deal but lying about what you were looking at when it was porn is. Reading through the different reports on this story has made me really stop and think about being careful. Not because I think I’m in danger of doing anything major today that could end up on CNN but because I think we’re all in danger of crossing a line we don’t want to cross when we play too close to the edge. But because every step is a step in one direction or another and whether positive or negative the next step often comes easier. Because I want to be clean in the end and that means making sure every move is on purpose. Because cheating on a test is a big deal. It’s cheating. And lying about where I am because I think someone will be aggravated is a big deal. it’s lying.
In the early 2000’s Casting Crowns released a song entitled Slow Fade. The lyrics are worth a read. The gist is this — it doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t “go too far” on the first step. Little by little black and white turns to gray.
I Corinthians 10:12 says, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (NLT). The Message says it like this, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.” The scripture warns - we are not exempt. Anyone, at any time, who is not carefully watching the Father and stepping in the right direction could be taking steps toward destruction.
So, without judgement, I wonder today if we might all need to take a quick look at where we are, who we’re surrounding ourselves with, the things we’re spending our time doing (or not doing), and where this road we’re on is leading us. Because every road leads somewhere.