Saturday, March 17, 2012

For My Son, On Finishing Last

My oldest son recently commented on FB that he has determined that the saying is true that "nice guys finish last."

I have been thinking about this ever since I read it, and tonight my thoughts solidified. As with everything here, I will speak without apology, but here is what I have determined on this subject. SkiTl, this is for you....

I decided that what needs to happen is first, we must decide what a nice guy is. And then we have to determine whether we are, in fact, one of them. You must decide this. I cannot decide it for you. But you must decide honestly, then you must take responsibility for your decision. When I was a little younger than you are now, I had a similar outlook. It took meeting your mother and falling in love with her to make me see who I was, and who I was willing to become.

Let's talk first about the Not-Nice Guy. Let's say he is one particular guy, and we will name him ... ow about Rick? Rick is one of those guys who, according to the theory, is going to finish first. Why is that? Who is Rick? First, he is selfish. He only cares about his immediate comfort and pleasure. He may finish first, but that is only because he only concerned with finishing first, and he will finish alone, leaving pain and suffering behind him.

Rick will also finish first, because he has taken the easiest path, the quickest way he sees to finish. And he will celebrate the fact that he finished first, bragging about it to anyone else who finishes, and mocking those who come after him, or have still not fished.

Rick, however does not realize that finishing is not the same as winning. He mocks those who are still going because deep down, he fears what they represent. And what they represent is the fact that the race we are running is not a sprint, but a marathon. He took the easiest path and reached the finish line, which was only a short distance away, while avoiding the rest of the course, with all its trials and wonders.

See if the "Nice Guys" are right, then Rick is an irresponsible, childish, selfish jerk. And the truth of the matter is that the nice guys ARE right.

Our nice guy we will call Norman. Seems like a decent nice-guy name. What does Norman do hat makes him different from Rick? Norman goes to church on Sunday. He doesn't go because he has to, but because he wants to be a better person, and he knows he needs a weekly fill-up. He goes because he knows he can't run the whole race on his own, and there are other marathoners there who can help him, not to mention the help he needs from the original Nice Guy Himself. Who better to understand his needs? This means Norman also prays. He knows what Rick doesn't: that nobody finishes the race quickly, and nobody does it solo.

Norman also show self-discipline. He knows that the only person he has power over is himself, but that he has to always be vigilant. He can never give in to his inner Rick. He knows that would ruin his life.

Norman goes to school. Not so he can be rich, but so he can be better. He studies hard, and he tries to learn what he can. Grades are good, but knowledge is better. He knows that eventually, his efforts will pay off. Not necessarily right now. That is Rick talking. Norman is in for the long haul.

Norman is a hard worker. He listens to people. He cares, and is understanding. He uses kind words and is tactful. He helps other people. All of this helps him become a man who can love with his entire being. That is what a real man is.

Where all Rick is looking for is potential sex partners, Norman is seeking one life partner. She will be the person Norman can be with and make happy. Rick is only interested in his own pleasure. He will always try to "finish" with girls. Norman wants one girl who will never be finished with him.

Because of that, Norman tries to meet "Nice Girls." He will most likely meet them at church, but if not, will take them there. And they will want to go with him. Rick doesn’t care if a girl is nice or not. He is only concerned with what they can do for him. Norman wants one who can do great things for their children.

Rick is irresponsible. Norman takes responsibility for all his actions, so chooses what those actions will be with great care.he does not want to regret anything. This is what Rick fears the most. He fears responsibility. He knows that if he becomes at all like Norman, he will have to acknowledge that he has not been very nice. And he does not want any responsibility. He also knows, deep down what Norman also knows, but he is afraid to admit it.

The biggest truth that Norman knows is that winning means NOT FINISHING AT ALL. Rick wants to finish and be done. Norman wants to keep going. Norman will stay on the right path no matter how hard it gets. He will never finish, because the course never ends. While Rick is sitting and congratulating himself on finishing first, Norman is miles down the road, experiencing wonders, and even pains and heartaches. He will stay the course. He will fight the good fight. And when the true "End" comes, he will have won. He will win the prize, and be able to say he made it the whole way.

Rick will never be happy. He will find pleasure wherever he can get it, but never true happiness. Norman will find strength. He will find wisdom. And he will find happiness. But mostly, he will find that it was true that he did not finish first. And he will know that he was never meant to do so. He knows it was never about that in the first place.

I know you are discouraged right now. We have all been there, trust me. I may not know every detail of your life right now, but I know discouragement. There are ways past it. But success will never be found by avoiding the things that truly matter. It takes work. It takes effort. And it takes reaching out to the Lord, because he does know every detail. He knows what it takes. I am not perfect; never claimed to be. But He is. And with His help, all things are possible.

Don't worry so much about whether or not nice guys finish last. Worry about whether or not you can be counted as one of them, and work on you. Make YOU be the best thing you ever made. When you can reach that point, the girl who has been making herself good for you will be standing right where she should be. Will you be there to see her? If you aren't where you should be, you might just miss her. But if you are, you will see that being a Nice Guy isn't so bad after all...!