Steelers Free Safety: a study in contrasts, or is he?

Troy Polamalu wears number 43 for the Pittsburgh Steelers but is clearly more commonly known by his extremely long, flowing hair trailing behind in the breeze, while he runs like few men can. On the field he appears to be everywhere at once. He makes plays that cause the most seasoned commentators, coaches, and players to be in awe. It doesn’t matter if it is tackling an opposing player with wrecking ball force, making an interception that seems physically impossible, or getting from point A to point B without seeming to make use of time or space in any conventional manner. Polamalu is probably best described as a human Tasmanian Devil, that whirlwind of a creature made famous on Bugs Bunny cartoons. It tears through everything and everyone and never stops. It makes the energizer bunny look like it is in a coma. Polamalu has that kind of impact on the football field. Other players at times seem to be running on dying batteries when compared to him.

Yet by all accounts, off the field he is one of the most calm, quiet, and considerate individuals you will ever have the privilege of meeting. His hobbies are listed as playing the piano and growing flowers. Growing flowers! Are you kidding me? This from a guy who is a perennial All Pro in one of life’s most brutal sports. Yet he finds joy in the simplicity gardening. On top of that he is most known for the fact that as an adult he converted to the Eastern Orthodox branch of the Christian faith. It is evidenced by the fact the he crosses himself after every play, doing so in the Eastern manner of from right to left and not the Western of from left to right.

Many people are struck by what seems to be a disconnect between the on field dynamo of energy and aggression and the off the field contemplative, meditative, religious gardener. If you are someone who has not experienced the passion of a faith that guides your life then such a diversity seem irreconcilable. That is because we too often look for external consistency and not internal ones. The internal consistency that I see in Polomalu is that he is passionate about whatever he does and I suspect that his Christian faith is understood in such a way that he is sold out to it 100%, just like he is to football and gardening. I also suspect that his faith is such, that he sees all of life as being centered around the God he trusts and prays to. There is nothing lukewarm about how he approaches any aspect of life, be it football, flora, or faith. It all comes from the heart of a man who is passionate about the things he deems important. It does not matter to him if they don’t seem to go together on the outside. The outside is not what really matters. It is the heart of faith that knits it all together in a very consistent package.

What are you passionate about? What drives you to experience all that God has to offer in life? What grips you so much that after every instance you do something to acknowledge the God who made you? Are you at peace enough in your life to be able to tend the roses and explode with a joy felt power and see no incongruity? It really is not about if things seem to line up on the outside, it really is about it things line up on the inside, in your heart of hearts. A radical love for God at the core of who you are will make it so much easier to have all of your life fit together and make sense, even if people looking from the outside don’t exactly get it.

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