As I listen to Lance Armstrong admit that he cheated to win seven straight Tour de Frances, only one question comes to my mind.
Why would you want something you didn’t earn? Why cheat? Why would you lie to the world? Why would you lie to yourself?
I don’t know if he ever answers my questions. I doubt that a satisfactory answer exists. But I would offer my own.
It is because he believed the lie that winning races, making money, dating celebrity girlfriends, and gaining his own fame, were the ingredients to a better life.
Armstrong chose to take a shortcut to a better story.
It is easy to sit and wonder why anyone would do this. It is easy to be disgusted by Armstrong’s actions.
But are we any different than him?
Everyday we make decisions and choose things for ourselves that are essentially based on the same motivation. We believe a lie about what a good story is and how we can get it.
This is what it looks like in my life:
Every time I see a Porsche or a Mercedes or a BMW, I want one. I imagine myself driving in luxury and being happy.
Whenever I shop for clothes my primary focus is not how the clothes feel or whether or not they are a good price. And I certainly do not concern myself about whether or not I need them. Instead I focus on how I feel the new clothes make me look.
I have very little hair, but every morning I still look in the mirror and assess whether or not my hair looks the way I want it to.
Whenever I am overwhelmed with my life (which anymore is constant), I imagine a different one. Perhaps one in which I get to sit by a fire in a cabin in the mountains surrounded by snow and coffee and good books and silence.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying any of these things are inherently wrong. Silence is a much needed medicine for me.
What is wrong, however, is my belief that I need any of them to live a good story.
We take shortcuts all too often. Some of them are smaller and we hardly see the negative effects. Some of them are bigger, such as Armstrong’s, and the effects stick out like bulging muscles.
We fall for the shortcut lie because of yet a bigger lie. A lie that says something about who we are and what our purpose in life is.
If your greatest purpose in life is to win, to enjoy the luxury of your riches, to sit back and relax, then taking shortcuts make sense. But I believe you and I were made for something bigger. I believe there is more to purpose in life.
Our purpose is to do good works for the good of others. To share what we have. To live in compassion. I believe our purpose is to create. To create something better than what existed yesterday. To create that which encourages others. I believe our purpose is to do our best at whatever it is we do, whether it is fixing torn rotator cuffs, or parenting, or making a cup of coffee, or racing bicycles. Our purpose is to live as if our work is bigger than what is obviously apparent.
I believe our purpose is to love God and to love our neighbor.
Everything else is a waste of the short time we have on this earth.
To live out such a purpose will take commitment, hard work, and sacrifice. No shortcuts exist.
What if Armstrong had chosen to not cheat and then he only won one Tour de France? What if the best he had ever done was place 23rd? What if you had never heard of him? What if he hadn’t surmassed a sizable fortune? What if he hadn’t dated Sheryl Crow?
Would he be less happy, less satisfied with his life, than he is today?
Have you ever taken a shortcut to a better story?
You can leave a comment by clicking here.