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You Need to Earn Personal and Marital Redemption
Written By: Mark Smith

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"The righteous man may fall seven times, but they will rise up again." Proverb 24:16

Have you ever fallen? Has your behavior ever hurt the people you love the most, not to mention yourself? Don’t fool yourselves, everyone has issues. I believe that everyone you know has a good bit of dysfunction and emotional brokenness. If you haven't fallen yet, mark my words, you will fall somehow, someday. I believe in grace, reception and second chances. I believe in learning from your mistakes. I believe that some of the most healing, encouraging and proactive people in the world have MAJORLY screwed up at some point in their lives. Falling has the potential to make you humble, hungry, motivated and sincere.

While it hurts me as a die-hard Dallas Cowboy’s fan of 40+ years to like a Philadelphia Eagles player, I have to admit that I have taken a liking to one Michael Vick. Not only is he probably THE most talented player in the NFL, he has also risen from the lowest place of humiliation and disgrace with a humility and sense of regret that is admirable. For the very few of you who don’t know his story, Michael Vick, the most athletic quarterback the NFL had ever seen was sentenced to 23 months in prison on December 11, 2007 for running a dog fighting operation.

He was inmate number 33765-183 at Leavenworth Federal Prison until May 20, 2009. The arrest cost Vick his reputation, his job, his fortune and his freedom. Very few teams were interested in Vick when he was conditionally re-instated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on July 27, 2009. The guy was a pariah. It was politically correct to stay as far away from him as possible.

In his November 29, 2010 article in Sports Illustrated, Scott Price wrote that “former Colts coach Tony Dungy, who had agreed to mentor Vick, met with him in prison for three hours (shortly before his release). Vick spoke of how he wanted to be a good father for his three children, a better man for all the kids who once idolized him. He also told of how, given the chance, he intended to push himself, maximize his talent, for the first time. "He was very confident he could be a better player this second time around," Dungy told SI. "I wasn't sure; I didn't see how after two years off he could be better. But he was right."

Dungy was convinced of his sincerity, as were Jim Mora and Dan Reeves, Vick's first coach in Atlanta. And when Eagles coach Andy Reid phoned Dungy that spring to ask, "Do you think he's heading in the right direction? Do you think his heart's right?" Dungy told him, "Andy, I really do think so." Aside from Vick's obvious physical assets, Reid had his reasons. Both of his sons, Garrett and Britt, had been battling drug problems for years, and Andy had spent every Thursday for two years visiting them in prison. He had seen all kinds of cons in drug court and rehab: people making excuses, blaming the world. He'd seen others sincerely willing to change but often met with coolness or hostility. Garrett and Britt, though, were given jobs, support from other families. Reid's eyes still well up in gratitude. "I know what it's like to have young people who make mistakes and feel they've changed, and no one gives them a chance," Reid told Dungy. "I don't want to be that way. If that guy has changed and is looking for a second chance, I want to do it."

As a Cowboy’s I am not fond of Andy Reid, but right now he is looking like a very wise man. A man who fallen as a father was humble and caring enough to not judge and give a man a second chance. Price quotes the Eagles owner, Jeff Lurie as saying “I could really see an amazing regret, a terrible regret (in Vick)."

To me that is high praise for a man – to have amazing and terrible regret. A man who has amazing and terrible regret can make a comeback that astonishes everyone who observes him. I’m not talking about Michael Vick here – I’m talking about what you might be able to do with the rest of your life. We all make mistakes. You can redeem yourself, but you will need to work harder than you have ever worked and do a lot of grunt work before the crowds start cheering for you again. Vick’s first job out of prison wasn’t superstar NFL quarterback – it was construction worker. Vick said “I am changing my life. I'm going to do everything they ask me to do. I'm getting myself away from this madness." It is that kind of determination that will help you to get away from whatever madness you need to get away from.

If you fall, get yourself up again. Get yourself to a good therapist and find out what drove you to do what you did. Part of Vick's recovery was due to his finding a wise and caring mentor in Tony Dungy. Sincerely apologize to everyone who your actions hurt. Don’t wallow in shame and misery. The future can be bright for you. There is joy and success after failure, divorce, humiliation, addiction, disgrace and even after prison.

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I have to admit that I will be pulling for the Cowboys against Vick’s Eagles tomorrow night. I hope Michael Vick has a great day in a losing effort. I think that Vick will win a Super Bowl some day and that day might be as early as this February. He has all the ingredients that make a man great – talent, drive, humility, experience and perspective. You can win some of your own personal Super Bowls if you emulate Vick’s attitude and work on himself.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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