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.