ESPN’s recent story about Eddie Lacy’s public struggles with his weight is making its way around social media. The piece—which was largely sympathetic towards Lacy—highlights how his weight issues made him the brunt of social media jokes and memes over the last few years.
Predictably, internet trolls have gotten to Lacy.
He explained in the interview that "I could pull up my Twitter right now and there would be a fat comment in there somewhere. Like I could tweet, 'Today is a beautiful day!' and someone would be like, 'Oh yeah? You fat.' I sit there and wonder: 'What do you get out of that?'"
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Well, for one, I can tell you what they get out of that Eddie. They want to get into your head—and soul. And they have.
But that’s not the road I want to go down. Not yet at least.
Let’s start with the obvious. People are mean.
Christian, Play Nice
Kevin Van Valkenburg, who conducted the interview and wrote the piece, pointed out that “Social media has done wonders in recent years to bridge the gap between fans and professional athletes, but increased intimacy comes with drawbacks, and nobody understands that better than Eddie Lacy.”
Yes, social media provides us with an unprecedented opportunity in history: to connect with, talk to, and influence professional athletes. Both Eddie Lacy and Kevin Durant have proven in recent days that they are indeed listening. But for the Christian fan, this does not give us a license to use the powerful tool of social media as a weapon to destroy or tear down others.
Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
James 3:3-5 says, “When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
Our words have impact. We now have access to the greatest athletes in the world—really, to practically anybody in the world—but our access needs to be met with an alignment to the very word of God we claim to follow. What does His Word have to say about how we should use our words?
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
The Bible is clear, Christian. If you have something to say someone, whether to their face or through social media channels, do it in a way that is constructive and seeks to build the other person up.
Who You Listen to Matters
I have no desire to be lumped into the troll category here, but I am going to take a risk because this is worth it. Eddie needs to stop listening to the haters.
This entire piece—and his last few years of being miserable—is a result of listening to voices that he has the power to ignore. If Twitter followers cause you to feel depressed...Stop. Getting. On. Twitter.
Because our identities are often impacted by how others view us and talk about us, we need to put systems in our life to limit how often we hear them.
Another option is to give more priority to the voices that truly matter. Perhaps more importantly, we need to give priority to the Voice that matters most—God’s.
My daughter is adopted from Baton Rouge, LA. She is beautiful, funny, sassy, and Black. My wife and I learned a great truth before we adopted her: you cannot protect her from everything she will experience as a Black woman, but you can prepare her. That has always stuck with me. I can’t always protect, but I can prepare.
That sucks. Because she is going to get teased at school. She will be made fun of and mocked. All kids experience this reality, but I know that at some point she will be made fun of for the color of her skin. Rage boils up inside of me as I even type those words. That day will come. I can’t protect her from those future harmful words.
But I can prepare her.
So every time she goes to bed at night and every time she comes to me in tears because her feelings were hurt, I ask her the same questions: “Hadassah, who loves you?” The answer is always the same: “Daddy, Mommy, and God.”
“Right, and whose opinion of you matters that most?”
“Daddy’s, Mommy’s, and God’s.”
It's always true in every walk of life, no matter your gender or race or financial standing, no matter your social status: words have consequences.
For those of us on the receiving end of hurtful words—like Eddie Lacy—we need to quickly remind ourselves who we will derive our identity from.
Twitter trolls’ words can be powerful. But God’s words have the power to limit their impact if we’ll absorb them into our being.