Have you ever been accused of doing something, from a person in authority, that you know in your heart, you did not do? Perhaps a teacher accuses you of cheating, or lying, or maybe a manager or employer claims you stole something, or a parent claims you were doing something wrong, a game official claims you fouled someone, or a police officer pulls you over and accuses you of doing something, and you know, for a fact, you did not do it.
What do you do?
How do you respond?
How does that make you feel?
Most of us can relate to the frustration that Serena Williams felt in the US Open 2018 Women Tennis Championship game, when the referee accused her of receiving coaching, and handed her a code violation. And then, the referee issued two more violations, resulting in a point, and then a game being taken away, from Serena after she called the referee a thief. Serena expressed herself and stood her ground, saying that “I don't cheat to win. I'd rather lose.”
I am certain it was hard for Serena to regain her composure after that.
I could wholeheartedly relate to her. I felt every single emotion. Not only what Serena felt, but also what her opponent, Naomi must have felt.
Here’s the deal, our brains are hard-wired to give emotions the upper hand. As the book, Emotional Intelligence articulates, “everything we see, smell, hear, taste, and touch travels through our body in the form of electric signals. These signals travel through the frontal lobe first before reaching the place where rational, logical thinking take place. This journey ensures you experience things emotionally before your reason can kick into gear.”
It’s only natural for professional tennis players to express themselves. That’s why Serena kept saying that she saw other men tennis players who express themselves like she did, or worse, and do not receive code violations.
It’s definitely not fair, that’s for sure!
And it certainly isn’t fair when you are accused of things you did not do. I can understand why you would be upset and your emotions take over.
It may feel like your accusers are stealing from you and robbing you blind, in that moment.
However, we all can learn from Serena after she lost the match. After her emotions traveled through her frontal lobe, her rational, logical brain kicked in. She chose to rise above her circumstances, put her feelings aside, and put the attention on her opponent, where it was absolutely due, in that moment. You could see she was breathing her way through it, likely thinking about her daughter, saying positive affirmations to herself, and seeking to find a way to remain positive.
And that she did!
Serena did not want to rob Naomi of her shinning moment. After all, Namoi battled against her lifetime idol and won one of the biggest tournaments in professional tennis.
Congratulations most definitely goes to Naomi!
Serena was still likely hurting and feeling the sting, but she made a choice to move on, in that moment. That was a testament to Serena’s amazing character.
After we respond through our emotions, we all have a choice. We can allow the thief in our life to kill, steal and destroy our joy, peace, happiness and our livelihood, if we let them.
Here’s a tip - don't let them to destroy you.
You are more than that.
As you regain your composure, pray. Breathe your way through your upset. Ask God to remind you of who you are and believe it. Know your worth. You are a child of God. You are purposed to do great things and no one knows your heart. Try your very best not to take the accusation personal. I realize that is challenging.
And yes, by all means stand your ground. Allow your character to speak for itself, even if you do not receive an apology, because more often than not, you won’t.
Continue to live with dignity and Christ-centered integrity. Guard your heart above all else and by all means, pursue justice and truth, with love, honor, good deeds and a sound mind - even if you have to stand alone.
Realize that you are more than your emotions.
Whatever you do, don’t let the thief in your life, steal your joy, your happiness, your love for others, or your peace.
Even if the thief is you.