The Ultimate Test of Motives
October 28, 2010
Ever since I heard the announcement in July that Nickelback, the band whose song I attribute to helping me survive those torturous private moments of grief these last two years, would be coming to town October 23rd, I anticipated with baited breath. When tickets went on sale July 17, I found out a Meet and Greet package would be available, and I deliberated and drove my friend Robbin crazy for five hours trying to decide whether or not to blow a wad for the chance to deliver the message I so wanted to give the band regarding what that song did for me. In the end, I decided to go for it.
The months finally became weeks and then just days, and I'm fully convinced that simply having this to look forward to kept depression at bay and allowed me to work that day, unlike last year when I felt the need to run out of town when that tragic anniversary day October 22 came around. I made it through work Friday; then my friends Lia and Farrell each came from different points, and Saturday we determined we should arrive early. We got there in plenty of time, but then we found out the time to be let into the backstage area would be 6:40 instead of 6:15 as originally stated in the e-mail. After we all lined up in the appropriate area, the tour coordinator and security staff led us to the backstage room where the band was posing for photos with those of us who had either purchased or won the photo opportunity.
We were led in party by party, and when our turn came, everything happened at warp speed! I recall shaking hands with the drummer Daniel and fearless leader Chad, and then Chad was gently leading Lia and me into position for the photo. Just like that, the photo was taken and I realized that security was leading us out.
I froze! “Wait …!” It barely came out. The guys must have observed my desperate hesitation, because I thought I heard one of them—I think perhaps Daniel or Chad—quietly ask, “What? You OK?”
An explosion of thoughts flashed through my head. NO, I’M NOT OK! I WANTED TO TELL YOU GUYS SO BADLY! NOW HOW WILL YOU EVER KNOW? I imagine that if I would have started speaking, they wouldn’t have dragged me out. But I never made it a habit to curry favors based on my disability, and I wasn’t about to start now! Without another word, I followed everyone out. Lia knew my distress; I’d been with her on a similar mission. Bitter disappointment slammed into me like that familiar tsunami that had become my companion so often these past two years. But I was determined to have a good time as we made our way back to the floor where we secured spots practically on top of the stage!
Sometime during the set of Three Days Grace, Farrell came up with an idea. We’d kicked around the idea of writing a note, but I didn’t bring paper. Then he remembered the three pages I’d printed from the e-mail of instructions, one of which was the waiver form which the tour coordinator had neglected to collect from me. I don’t know if she forgot everyone else’s as well. Why not write it on the back of one of those pages? Then a question tore through me. Should I use page one which contains the e-mail header? I only took about one second to decide. No, I should use page three, the one that was supposed to be turned in at the beginning. Already Farrell was asking me what I wanted to say. So I told him, he wrote it, and he handed it to one of the security staff, explaining why it was so important to me. Later, Farrell told me that he’d actually used page two, which didn’t contain the waiver, but operating under the false assumption that we had pulled out page three, I decided to sign the front.
Then the moment I’d waited for came when Nickelback started with a bang, quite literally. I loved all the pyro, although being that close, it did get a little warm. A few too many F-bombs and a little too much JD, but hey, I’m in prayer for that stuff! Anyway, sometime during the set, I think after Daniel’s awesome drum solo to which I failed miserably trying to air drum, the security guy came back and proceeded to hand me three guitar picks. He didn’t elaborate on whether they were the ones that everyone who purchased the package were due to receive or whether it was because the note reached its destination, but I was jazzed at even the possibility of the latter! They didn’t play my song, but I figured it was just because perhaps it didn’t fit in with the light and pyro show.
The next day, two people in unrelated conversations asked me if I’d left any information such as my e-mail address in the note. They meant well, but I found myself recoiling from the notion, whereas in the past, I may have done just that. I realized that, had I left such information, it would have called my intentions into question. Didn’t I pray with Lia all along for pure motives? Wasn’t it quite possible I had accomplished my purpose for now? Furthermore, I learned that your character can really be tested when you have to make a snap decision. In both cases, the backstage room and the writing of the note and which page to use, I had to decide the right thing to do in a matter of seconds. It didn’t involve clear-cut issues such as stealing, murdering or that kind of stuff. The questions were more murky: Should I take advantage of a situation by using my disability? Should I subtly demand attention by leaving unnecessary information such as e-mail address? Most importantly, even though I acted under the wrong assumption and signed page two, as far as I was concerned at that moment, I knew I had to use the correct page so that if it made its way to the band members, it could then make its way to the tour coordinator who was supposed to collect it in the first place. Incidentally, if page three should ever be required of me, it will be here, signed.
The point is that when you’re pushed to the edge or you want something so badly, you’ll be tempted to act dishonestly, however small the deed may be. In the case of that signed form, it’s a matter of omission. Every day now, I’m up against two competing goals: living for the Lord and trying to be an encouragement on one hand, and meeting certain goals on a professional level on the other hand. I listen to sad tales of people losing their homes, their businesses, their dreams basically, and I sometimes—more often than not these days—become discouraged wondering if I’m doing any good. But then I remember these two themes reflected in the following verses.
First, the Lord didn’t let me give up just because things didn’t turn out exactly the way I hoped and I didn’t get to deliver my message directly. The point was to get it delivered, period.
9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Then if I would have tried to gain something by leaving contact info or if I don’t keep that page (only because I don’t know where to mail it) to show I’m honest, then I’m not protecting the interests of people I’m supposed to care about and that means I don’t have the right to claim I’m praying for them.
3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
As professional pressure builds due to the faltering economy, let’s see if I can apply these small but significant lessons at work.