There has been a recent campaign of Christian athletes, musicians and public figures promoting the phrase “I Am Second.” You may have seen the bracelets that some people wear with the motto on it, and it serves as a good reminder to put Christ first in our lives no matter what happens, even in times of great success.
If that’s unfamiliar to you, you will certainly remember professional cyclist Lance Armstrong’s campaign to “Livestrong” and the accompanying yellow bracelets that were for some stretch quite “in” in the fashion world. Personally, I’ve never worn either bracelet, but if I were to wear one it would have to be one that I createdmyself and the motto would be “I’m not the exception.”
You see, I have a disease. My disease could be called “exceptionitis,” or perhaps “restriction immunity syndrome,” and it is a very deadly condition. Allow me to explain.
I tend to think of myself as being in a different category than the rest of the world around me, and it often fuels my actions and attitudes in a negative way. For example, “they” should never look at their phone while driving because clearly “they” are not good enough to drive successfully while preoccupied by other things. I, on the other hand, am an excellent driver and am up to the challenge. “They” may be susceptible to certain pitfalls of temptation or stupidity, but not me. I’m a different type of person. I am the exception. Or so I think.
There is another much older word that can be used to describe my condition of “exceptionitis:” Pride. Yes, that’s it, right up there with the other six deadly sins. Pride looks at self and says “Hey man, you’ve got this! You don’t need help, you’ve got it all figured out. Not like all those people out there, they’re idiots!” If I’m not careful, I start to believe that the rules don’t apply to me, and that gets me in lots of trouble. I mean, LOTS of trouble.
So the reason I need a bracelet (any bracelet companies out there feel free to contact me!) is because I so often need to remind myself of the truth that I am not the exception. In fact, realizing that I am my biggest problem may be the best thing in the world for me to do. It is neither my circumstances nor the people around me who are to blame for my unhappiness. If I want to know the source of my problem, the only place I need to look is in a mirror.
I’ll take it a step further. I not only need to remind myself that I’m not the exception to the rule, I need to know that I am probably the reason the rule exists in the first place. My pastor Kevin Myers says that “we are all one step away from stupid, and stupid hurts.” This is the essence of humility, that I don’t think of myself more highly than I ought to think. It keeps my head on straight, my guard up, and my feet going in the right direction.
So how about you? Do you suffer from “exceptionitis”? Think about it. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.