Of course, the world was abuzz the first part of this week as famed Olympic medalist Michael Phelps kicked off “Shark Week” by swimming against several sharks. Or, at least he was supposed to have. In the end, it seems, the much hyped open ocean swim pitted the world’s fastest human swimmer, not against real sharks, but against mere CGI (or Computer Generated Imagery of) Hammerhead and Great White sharks.
Suffice it to say that the result was not well received. For all his (and the airing network’s) good intentions, Mr. Phelps was treated far more savagely in social media after the show than he may have been had he actually swum against real sharks. The once revered “World’s Greatest Athlete” has been the subject of scorn for several days now.
By comparison, over on an opposing channel, once disgraced Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte (cf. “Lochtegate” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lochtegate) has been featured in commercials celebrating the notion of second place.
The humorous commercial places him on a small boat obviously secured on a limited budget. He soon discovers that he and, by implication, the series of shark documentaries on this opposing network which he is meant to symbolize are both intended to celebrate second place.
Thereupon, he rejects this idea and declares that he is absolutely not swimming with sharks; but is instead leaving the set and departing in protest. The commercial ends with a distance shot of his little boat surrounded by numerous ominously circling dorsal fins!
The result is that Ryan Lochte has been much lauded for his ability to embrace satire. It appears that the same world that has heaped scorn upon the world's fastest swimmer has also now heaped praise upon the perennial second place swimmer.
I share this because I believe it speaks to a significant and beneficial truth - namely that we should never take ourselves too seriously. Irrespective of what all Ryan Lochte has been through, it is obvious that he has now learned to loosen up and to laugh at himself.
Along with numerous others, I applaud him for this. And I hope you do as well. For how much better might we all be if we simply learned to laugh at ourselves?
You see, we have all done things that we might wish we had not. We have all had experiences that did not turn out the way we might have wanted. Indeed, all of us, given the chance to make some changes, would likely jump at the chance to go back in time and undo an act or two!
As one who has done his fair share of things that he is not proud of, I would be the first in line. If you would be honest, you would likely join me. Given all of this, perhaps we should all just learn to lighten up a bit and let go of our mistakes - and eventually even to laugh at ourselves. The world might well be a better place if we did.
The Bible tells us that making mistakes is a part of being human. It also tells us that, by God's grace through His Son Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven for our mistakes and go on with our lives. And if the Lord Himself can forgive us, surely we can learn to forgive ourselves.
As Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame once admonished, “My advice is: Don't take yourself too seriously, laugh a lot, enjoy your time with family, and appreciate the unique talents of others. Trust in God, love your neighbor, say you're sorry, forgive, and work hard.”
He is right. Try these things and you will surely be glad you did!