Somewhere Between God and Ray Rice

I have found myself living with quite a tension and interior struggle as the story, once again, unfolded about Ray Rice. Normally I wouldn’t know much, but with the likings of Facebook, I had followed him for a few years and all his “fighting” of bullying, obviously a man with some honor and integrity, and then slowly, earlier this year, it all fell apart. What he did was wrong. We all know that. All of us guys are raised on one pretty easy rule to live by, you just don’t hit girls, ever. Yet, most likely in a fit of rage, he did it, it became public, and as much as Facebook helped me to see the admirable work he did for the Baltimore community, it has also taught me just how quickly people can turn on you when your actions cross the red line.

I have to say, though, it’s hard. I struggle with it greatly. I know it’s wrong, but from a perspective of faith and Scripture, I think of so many others that have done despicable things in their lives and as a Christian believe that there is always room for redemption. There is room to get someone help. There is room for someone to hit that “rock bottom”, and the tremendous humility that it takes to get there. One has to think, there’s probably some relief on his part. Only him and his now wife know the real story behind it all and how it unfolded. Obviously he knew there was more to it than what was first broadcasted around the world wide web and beyond, and he’s had to live with the truth of it all as well. As did and does she. Isn’t there always room to seek redemption? Haven’t we done it for others? I only hope others would do it for me. Again, I can’t stress enough, he was wrong and obviously he knows that. But how is he now redeemed? How does he find hope, once what he believed was how his life would unfold, has been pulled from under him?

Then there is the business side of it all. We all know that the players accept, upon agreement, that they are somewhat the property of the NFL and their team (that’s a topic for another time). They are, at any moment, representing something bigger than themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that to Catholic high school students. When you’re out in public and you’re wearing your school’s logo, and even when you are not, you are representing something bigger than you. You must feel the sacrifice of what you want and remember there is something and Someone bigger than you. Ray Rice and the other players are told the same thing, albeit a different loyalty. The greater good is at stake when choices are not made with one’s right faculties. The greater good is at stake when destructive choices are made, that not only impact you but the one and/or One you represent.

My heart aches for him today. Not because I believe it’s unjust. Not because I believe he wasn’t wrong or that it was minimal. My heart aches for him and her today because I am human and I can’t begin to imagine what their lives must be like. My heart aches because I would hope others and the world would provide space to me, to be redeemed. My heart aches because of the travesty of what we do to other human beings, Ray Rice, his wife, and others who have fallen from grace, and when they are down, we like to kick them again, just to make sure they are no longer breathing.

I honestly believe the Ravens were between a rock and a hard place. I believe they had to make the choice that they did, and if I were them, I’d probably do the same, because then, what does it say about us. But on the other side of the Under Armour Performance Center, I sure hope they are there as brothers and fellow human beings, not to kick him or her into the ditch, but to be there for them in their time of need. To be there for them to help pick them back up. To be there for them now that all has been lost. I won’t wear his number anymore, as a choice, but I also don’t wear Ray Lewis’ number. It is my choice. But I pray for them because it’s the right thing. I will pray that they will find redemption. I will pray that good can come from it all. I will pray that they will rise once again. I will pray that all of us can take a moment and put ourselves in her place and his place and breathe and take a deep breath. Whether we want to admit it or not, it can be any of us and how would we want to be treated. Somewhere I am between God and Ray Rice, and unfortunately, more towards Rice, if I’m willing to admit my own weakness and pride and participation in evil. When I finally can, I know I have nowhere else to lean than to God and to those God puts in place in my life to open the door to redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Yes, we condemn his actions, but can we also give the space, somewhere between God and Ray Rice, to walk in those shoes, his and hers, and for a moment, be with them in prayer and thought. God knows, they need that more than anything at the moment.

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9 thoughts on “Somewhere Between God and Ray Rice

  1. Well said Father Marty! I agree completely with you.

    Here’s my dilemma: The NFL made a horrible mistake when it suspended Rice for only two games. It was clear then, based on the photos of him dragging his to-be wife out of the elevator, that substantial violence had occurred. The NFL, because of the intense reaction to the original penalty, changed its policy for such actions in the future to prompt an automatic six-game suspension for the first offense. I agreed with the harsher penalty because it hopefully would “send a message” that such behavior was totally unacceptable.

    Now we have leaked footage of Ray Rice striking his now-wife and he gets an indefinite suspension. What about other NFL players who are accused of domestic violence and there are no cameras recording the incident? Will they only get the automatic six-game suspension, despite doing something similar or perhaps worse? While I find Rice’s behavior outrageous, I think that he is being treated unfairly. We now have the NFL under-reacting initially and overreacting now, in my opinion.

    Finally, as Christians, we should all be in the redemption mode. No one is beyond hope and redemption. Hopefully Ray Rice will make a sincere effort to change his life and the NFL will give him a second chance.

    Bill

    • and isn’t that the typical way…under and then over-react! I do believe deep down he is a good person who made a terrible mistake. I think he’ll turn his life around and some good will come out of it and hopefully a stronger marriage for the two of them. We shall see…

    • nicely said….I do believe in second chances too, but I do not think Ray Rice will return to the NFL….the reason is, if another team should ponder hiring him….fans will have access to the video, which will be disturbing, and the outcry etc. starts all over again. For, if there was not a video, and only a memory of same…the memory would fade, and people would go on …..So, having a video on the internet, sealed Ray’s fate. NFL makes it’s own rules as it goes along…so really, anything is possible.

  2. Yep we teach all our boys, “you don’t hit girls, not ever!” but like you I don’t like the everyone is against Ray Rice right now. Feels like another form of bullying. He did wrong. He is human. There are consequences but we as Christians we are called to be compassionate and bullying or knocking a guy who is already down is a mob mentality. Perhaps some help/therapy in his time of need.

  3. Thank you so very much for writing this..I found myself in the unpopular position yesterday of trying to explain my feelings on Ray Rice without sounding like I was making excuses or condoning. I shared your blog and was comforted that others loved it and shared it as well.

  4. Well said! When the video came out I wondered why everyone was so shocked…she walked into the elevator and was dragged out unconscious; how did everyone think she got that way? The fault on this was that the Ravens, the NFL and the police did not follow through at the time and take the correct action immediately. When the NFL changed their policy to a 6 game suspension, that is the punishment Ray should have gotten. If the Ravens decide to cut ties with him, that is the right of the organization. Obviously, violence is NEVER the answer to any problem but Ray and Janay both have some serious issues and hopefully they are getting help with them together.

  5. I am still not sure how I feel about all of this… Especially being a woman…. Domestic violence is not acceptable, ever! But it goes both ways, or at least it should. I find myself feeling sad for Ray, his wife, and their daughter. I don’t know if I agree with taking his life out from under him, under them, at this point. Although I do feel like there definately needed to be some kind of circumstances. It is not our job to judge, yet so many are. None of us are perfect, everyone makes mistakes, some bigger than others. I can’t help but think about the positive things he has done for children and the community. I feel conflicted, I know that.

  6. A woman was brought before Jesus, by people who said they caught her in the act of committing adultery. The impassioned crowd reminded Jesus that the penalty for adultery was for the adulterer to be stoned to death. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” They all dropped their stones and walked away. Jesus forgave the woman’s sin and told her to go and sin no more.

    Couple things:

    1. Where was the man? It’s a little difficult to commit adultery by yourself isn’t it? If she was, indeed, “caught in the act,” my guess is he was right there. So why didn’t he stand accused?

    2. Jesus didn’t say, “let he who has never committed adultery cast the first stone.” He said “let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.” Jesus didn’t then pull out his whiteboard and rank sins from bad to worse to worst. He simply said, “You’ve never done any wrong in your life? Toss away!” And NOT ONE could honestly do it.

    3. Jesus didn’t think that the woman didn’t do it. In fact, he knew that she DID do it, because he told her to go and sin no more. I’m guessing he even knew who the guy was.

    There are those who wish to rank sins so that they can feel better about themselves, and so they don’t have to feel bad about treating others like crap since “I’m not as bad as him.”

    You are as bad as him.

    “Well, I’m not as bad as ISIS.”

    You are as bad as ISIS.

    “Well, I’m not as bad as [enter name of offending famous person here].”

    Yes, you are.

    And so am I.

    And it is by nothing more or less than the work of Jesus Christ that any of us will ever be worthy to approach God’s throne and receive grace and mercy and forgiveness for our sins.

    When we judge others, we are doing nothing more than writing them off. We are saying, “You are not worthy of forgiveness. You are worthless. I don’t want you. God doesn’t want you.” And that’s a damnable lie.

    So maybe we (you and I) should just stop.

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