I learned something about me…

Background: Those of you who know me well will know that I do not have what some people might call “a strong obligation to act in accordance with set rules”. I have fairly strong and consistent beliefs, I think, but when it comes to my actions in a particular situation, I have a bad tendency to break rules when I think that I “know better”. This is a terrible attitude to have; and my wife has helped me a lot, so that I am not nearly as bad as I used to be. But what makes the situation even worse is that I can’t even remember the last time I was found out, caught, or reprimanded for something like this.

Situation: That being said, I recently had a lapse in my better judgment. Through a series of chance happenings, I discovered an extremely fast internet connection (legally). However, in very poor form, I grossly exploited the connection and in one day used an amount of bandwidth that was beyond all reasonable calculations of what might be called “fair use” (aka, a friggin’ HUGE amount of bandwidth).

Part of this, I admit, was my own sheer curiosity for how fast this internet connection would actually go. I mean, I had never seen anything like it… I was honestly trying my best to download so many things that it would be crippled, but there was no end to its speed. In your mind right now should be a picture of Clark Griswold putting Christmas lights on his house in “Christmas Vacation”… when he finally gets it all lit, the whole power grid is crippled and the power companies have to turn on the extra generators to cope with the stress. Now imagine me with my laptop putting such stress on the system that the lights in the whole building begin to dim. It was something like that.

This time, however, there was no way to hide from what I had done… you have to login to use this internet connection, so they can easily log your traffic. And after a performance like mine, it would be hard for anyone not to take notice (and probably be adequately impressed). I got an email a couple of days later with the ridiculous number of Gigabytes that I had downloaded, asking me politely to keep my bandwidth usage within more reasonable limits from now on. The real kicker, however, was the follow-up email I received next…

An administrator in my department had been copied on the email and wished to meet with me… umm… uh oh. I was honestly very worried. I replied immediately and apologized profusely for my bandwidth usage and promised it would not happen again (I really was very sorry; it was stupid).

What happened next was completely unexpected. The administrator emailed back and said that he would accept my apology and my promise, no further action needed, just the warning. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we call “good faith”. Suddenly all of my aversions to rules and regulations had been taken out of the realm of the abstract and been placed squarely in the realm of someone else’s personal “good faith” and trust in my own integrity.

Suddenly, my carelessness toward rules and regulations had been transformed into a serious desire to honor the trust of another person. I have known for a long time that personal relationships are very important to me, but I’ve never seen so clearly how the SAME action that only a week ago I had no problem performing is now off limits simply because of the change from impersonal rule to personal trust.

The significance of this in terms of relationship to God are probably plain enough, and this post is already over the word limit.


  1. I think your reflection is interesting. When something goes from impersonal probabilities to personal reality it makes it much harder to ignore. It is all too easy to think of God in the first category rather than the last.


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