The politician’s husband stared down at his wedding band and waited. The court was still in session, but the verdict was already evident to him.
Although the lawyer had cast some doubt, the evidence seemed clear that she had taken the bribes. What more would their children endure because of this, he wondered. He glanced over at his daughter. She was nervously fiddling with her nails, betraying her emotions just a little. What a price they had all paid to be famous and admired.
For years her parents had fought her nail biting, and finally found the solution was to use acrylic nails to simply cover them. Whenever she had a difficult time in school those nails saw more wear. But, repairs were made and she once again appeared in control and well-adjusted to the pressure of having a famous mother. Good intentions were the reason that they gave her the best of everything, or so they had thought. Since she was watched by everyone, it was better to make sure she wasn’t teased and they had spared no expense.
Her brother often told them that he felt like he was under a microscope. He was fairly athletic and with dedicated trainers had always done pretty well. Wanting to protect him, his parents had encouraged him to excel in sports. If he could channel his energy to prove himself, maybe he would gain more confidence. Hours of practice a night were all with that intent, to make the boy invincible to any attack. It would show his peers that even though his last name meant something, he was also someone worth respect.
He had justified the scrutiny on his son’s performance as necessary for his good. It was to build his confidence and help him see that he could succeed even with challenges. Looking back, that had been a mistake, his father now realized. It took the joy out of being an athlete to have so much pressure to succeed, and no praise or notice when he did well. He wondered why had he been so hard on his son when his own father had been so supportive.
He was mortified as he thought about the conversations he had with his son. It wasn’t just his peers who had him under a microscope, he realized. He was probably worse than any coach, for he never let up. As he thought of the interactions with his son, he saw a pattern he didn’t want to acknowledge. Each revolved around what oversights were made in his son’s performance, what improvements could be made, or a contrast in how well some other boy had played.
To their extreme disappointment, their son had a bad case of acne that morning and refused to go with them to court. He knew his face would be photographed over and over, and he broke down into tears explaining it to his father. The image of his son curled in a ball weeping was still devastating even hours later. He regretted the words he used in response, but more the guilt he tried to use against his boy. Had he not faced enough already? The gavel sounded and the man held his breath, hoping for a miracle.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on the downside to fame and prestige.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple
In Matthew 4:5 Jesus is taken to a high place, both scary and yet one that would leave the crowds below staring and pointing in amazement. At first I focused so much on HOW Jesus got there that I missed an important point on what a temptation it was to be there. As pointed out in my various reflections, Jesus was the promised king of Israel, yet lived a life in obscurity and without recognition of that fact. We saw a glimpse of recognition after His baptism, but immediately He disappeared and was again insignificant to those around Him.
Is it sacrilegious to assume Jesus was tempted by popularity and the religious Jews below Him recognizing Him or even being amazed by Him? If so, than I am guilty. Here in the center of the holy city, at the very temple where religion and worship come together, we find Him way above the people. Certainly being the ‘king of the hill’ or the person everyone esteems has its rewards. Now more than ever in today’s culture we see people suddenly rise to amazing popularity and obsession, where any choice they make is considered news.
In the same breathtaking speed to sudden fame; we have all seen the fall of one who was just the day before adored and honored. It has made me wonder, would they rather have lived unknown but simple lives than endure the embarrassment and scandal after being discovered? I would bet that more than a few would give anything to undo even the best days of honor just to live in peace. Today we want so much to be noticed, that we don’t think about the other side of that notice. My hope doesn’t lie in popularity, or the opinion of fickle people. That leads too soon to disappointment, for we all fail. My hope lies in a God who knew my worst scandal and embarrassing deeds, but lovingly said I was worth the cost and paid it.