The Last Dance is over. ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1997–98 Chicago Bulls was a fascinating trip back in time for many of us. Though the language was sometimes crude in the extreme, the series vividly portrayed Jordan’s drive to be the best and fed widespread claims that he was the greatest player of all time.
The documentary also sparked a number of spin-off stories about Jordan and his teammates. One I found fascinating was a report out of Chicago that the team concealed their identities at hotels on the road.
Rusty LaRue, a reserve guard on the 1997-98 team, spent weeks sharing relics from the team on social media. Among them was a list of players on the Bulls’ hotel room assignment sheet. The names have been decoded: Jordan was “Oscar Miles”; Scottie Pippen was “Johnnie Walker”; and Steve Kerr was “Austin Powers,” among others.
The freedom and power of sincerity
Anonymity is obviously valuable for celebrities who seek privacy. Movie stars and athletes changing their names or appearance is apparently an art form, if the stories are to be believed.
But masking who we are to project the person we want others to see is not confined to famous people. Counselors says that most of us project the “idealized self” we wish we were to the world. We do this because we know we are not who we want to be and are afraid if others see us as we truly are, they will reject us.
There is wisdom here, of course. It is important to act in ways that honor our Lord and advance his kingdom. Being our best self is foundational to our effective witness and ministry.
But when our best self is consistently different from the person we believe to be our true self, psychic dissonance sets in. We live in fear of being unmasked before others. We spend our lives projecting who we think they wish us to be. This is a prescription for stress and distress.
The good news is that our Lord knows us and loves us as we truly are.
David noted that his Creator “saw my unformed substance; in your book was written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). This means that the Lord knew before he created David that David would one day sin with Bathsheba in ways that would stain his public reputation permanently. But the Lord considered David worth creating despite his future sins.
He feels the same way about you and me.
Today is a good day to be open and honest before your Father. Tell him your deepest pain and darkest secrets. Not to inform him, since he knows them anyway, but to be honest with him and yourself. Ask him to bring to your mind anything you need to confess, then do so with repentance and claim his cleansing grace (1 John 1:9).
Now ask him to help you live your best life with transparency and sincerity. Bryce Sanders noted that “sincerity is about being yourself, but doing a very good job at it.”
When you know that God loves you as you are, you can love yourself as you are. And you can love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).