The sign sits at the entrance to the old dilapidated dressing room behind the stadium. You can’t help but see it as you leave the playing field and head in to the showers.
“Did you leave it all on the field today?”
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard the words leave it all on the field used in any context other than a sporting event. The coach stands surrounded by sweaty, discouraged athletes who have just played a disastrous first half in the championship game. They are so far behind that no sane person could ever foresee a possibility of them leaving the arena with a W added to their record. The last thing the desperate coach begs of them, before they go back through that tunnel leading to the playing surface, is to leave it all on the field. The only chance they have–if there is a chance at all–is to give everything they have for every second that remains in the game.
Nothing can be held back.
I’ve never played in a championship game. I’m not an athlete. Oh, I do work at keeping fit. I set artificial goals, personal targets, at which any real athlete would scoff. There are times when I finish a five mile run and think that I left it all on the trail behind me. But the next time I go out, I find that I could have done just a little bit more, could have run a few steps faster or further if I had only tried.
I have never left it all on the field.
It is true of my physical endeavors and, to my continuing shame, equally true in the intellectual and spiritual realm.
I am embarrassed to say that I have held back nearly every time I have begun any project. I am especially loath to reveal that, in my writing, I have guarded my dragon’s hoard of ideas, my treasure trove of feelings. I have finally come to understand why that is. I finally realize why I am hesitant to lay everything out in clear view for my readers.
I’m terrified of you. Yes, you.
I want desperately to please you. I want you to read the words I toss down on the blank page and respond with wonder and awe at my erudition, my intellectual capability. And, nothing else. I want you never to disagree with me; never to argue with me; certainly never to become angry with me.
Some time ago, I joined a Christian blog site, but I eventually realized that the folks there judged my posts by their own standard of doctrinal orthodoxy. They actually wanted to argue about ideology and theology! The nerve!
Of course, you know what I did. That’s right. I changed my style of writing to fit their standards. Like the chameleon that blends into whatever environment it is placed into, I faded into the background. Posting only those items which I knew would inspire absolutely no controversy, I fit in.
I never left it all on the field there.
Tiring of the constant strain to please, I thought that I might try a different site, one where the participants would let me write honestly (so I thought). The current marketplace in which I participate is the polar opposite to the Christian site I first tried. Religion there is often met with skepticism and outright derision. A number of writers apologize before they quote a scripture verse, sometimes even inserting warnings in the description of the posts to give people the chance to move past ideas at which they might be offended.
Once again, like the chameleon blending into the background, I am qualifying my essays before posting them there.
I won’t leave it all on the field there, either. I want to be loved, not argued with.
Please love me!
I have ideas inside of my head which would shock you. I believe some things which would make you angry. Yes, I’m talking to you. You think you know me, think you understand what makes me tick. But, I’ve never left it all on the field. How do you know what I really have to say?
The Lovely Lady frequently (albeit gently) reminds me that my use of the word honestly in conversation might make people think that I actually wasn’t that–honest–all the time. She (and the people) would be correct. There is more to say, more to get into the open.
I’m trying to decide if it is time to do that; wondering when I will actually leave it all on this field.
Will you still love me tomorrow?
“Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.”
(Rick Warren ~ American pastor/author)
“Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.”
(Howard Benjamin Grose ~ Baptist minister ~ 1851-1939)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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