First of all, I learned that big people can easily hurt you. Either make friends with them, or avoid them at all costs. Seriously…they are dangerous. I also learned that the team is more important than the individual. I learned to be respectful and always say “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am.” I learned that hard work can beat talent. And I learned that eating my weight in potato chips really can make it difficult to improve my mile time.
However, one somewhat peculiar lesson that I learned way back then is only now starting to impact my life. You see, when attempting to tackle somebody that is carrying a football, you have to know which way he is going to try and run around you. Most players will often give you a head and shoulder fake. They may take a step in the opposite direction to get you off balance.
But the sure fire way to tell where a ball carrier is going is to watch his hips. No matter how the rest of his body moves, when his hips are pointing in a certain direction, his body has no choice but to follow. The player’s hips are always an accurate indication of where he is going. As my old coach used to say, hips don’t lie.
I never really felt like that lesson applied to my life and my faith until a few weeks ago. Sister Helen Prejean, a nun that is famous for being an activist against the death penalty, came to visit the campus on which I work. In the midst of her speech, she dropped one line that seemed to resonate with most of the crowd. She said, “I watch what I do to see what I believe.”
At first, I scoffed at that. I have always thought that your beliefs dictate your actions, not the other way around. However, after putting some thought into it I realized how accurate Sister Prejean’s statement is.
For example, no matter what I think I believe about alcohol, if I spend the majority of my time intoxicated I am probably an alcoholic. Regardless of how generous I think I am, if I regularly pass up opportunities to give I am probably a pretty selfish dude. And no matter how dedicated I claim to be to my diet, the fact that I have to keep buying larger pants is a good indication that my weight is not a priority.
We often judge others on their actions and ourselves on our intentions. Sister Prejean challenged us to turn that on its ear and to evaluate ourselves based on our actions. If we take a real look at the way we treat people, the things we spend our time on, and how much effort we put into our calling, we will get a pretty clear picture of what we truly value and how important our “beliefs” really are to us. If we actually believe what we claim to believe, then our actions will directly reflect that.
It’s like my coach always said, hips don’t lie.