Rules of Engagement

“Red Rover Red Rover send Karla on over!” It was a bit scary. First, there wasn’t THAT much room between the two walls of the gym. How fast should I really go to break the barrier of my friends’ arms. Won’t that hurt them? Won’t I get hurt?

Rules were part of the game. Every game in fact. But rules were nothing new to me as my parents lined out a few when I was very young. Following the rules was important to me. It seemed most of us gave it our best efforts. But behind the scenes…

No one really liked him. I felt sorry for him. No one really paid any attention to her. My heart broke for her. Why wouldn’t anyone pick her for the team? Why are others being mean to him? I never understood it. Why are they laughing at her? Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Sundays would come around~my favorite day. We’d soon be gathered around the family table. Under the steeple I’d curiously observe other adults and kids. Bibles open, pens out, and if lucky, candy for us young ones. And the singing was my favorite. The rules were shared through stories; ancient ones and some newer. True events with major consequences for not following the rules. On one hand the fear made me sit up straight. But on the other hand, sermons about love filled me with warmth and acceptance. I learned of this man who always played fair and loved every team member. The rules seemed black and white and rules of engagement seemed… fair.

Last week I shared with my parents as we discussed current events, “Why did I, and so many teachers and parents to this day, spin our wheels trying to teach young kids kindness and civility when our own leaders do not display them?”

Rules had to be displayed when I began teaching at a young age. By the time I left education we had school-wide norms. These expectations were communicated daily in school-wide settings and individual classrooms. “Kids, I’d like for you all to be civil and respectful to one another!” “Even if we disagree let’s show courtesy and respect!” One day several young students and I were sitting in a circle in the counselor’s office. The discussion was about bullying. One girl was obviously the victim. The others, collectively, immediately developed a pack-like attitude. To try and get them to speak individually was like pulling a tooth. The pack remained intact. My own family had their experience at pack attacks throughout the years. Have you ever experienced it?

When I left Facebook a couple of years ago it was because the rules of engagement no longer seemed to exist. After learning some lessons (and still learning) I couldn’t understand why some, hidden behind a screen, could fire shots without any regard to the rules of engagement. Aside from what one might consider just general knowledge about healthy and positive human behavior these attacks seemed planned. And the rules of engagement justified me acting in self-defense right? But to whom does this really benefit?

I was a rule-breaker. There were periods of my life I only thought of myself; I had felt bullied and looked for a way out~despite the rules. I’ve lived with the consequences of breaking the rules and its impact on others. I’ve experienced heartache, hurt, pain, and joy all combined in the lessons.

Several mornings ago, while catching up with the “normally-not-so-uplifting” news, I was refreshed by the interview of two men running for governor of Utah. Their ad was a light in the darkness for me. Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and law professor Chris Peterson, a Democrat, appeared together to call for civility among voters. Cox and Peterson are running against each other to become the governor of Utah. They joked with one another and encouraged all residents to respect one another; no matter their vote. My smile got wider. This was not a hallucination of hope. It was real.

“Our common values transcend our political differences and the strength of our nation rests on our ability to see that,” Peterson said. “I’m not sure this has ever been done before…but as our national political dialogue continues to decline, my opponent and I decided to try something different,” Cox tweeted Tuesday.  “Let’s make Utah an example to the nation.” (CBS News)

I’m not distracted by false hope anymore. I’m not falling for the fake offering of freedom with instant love. The only attention I need is that which grows my capacity to level the playing field for everyone in which I engage.

I did run across the gym eventually. Although I didn’t break the bonded arms of my friends, the giggly entanglement ensured me I was safe on their team.

I’ll stay my course with my ultimate authority~to guide me and to help me set the parameters that will propel me to encourage and help others in the game. You see, it’s not the rules I focus on anymore~it’s Christ. And Christ alone.

   “There is no exception to this rule: "All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant." They say there is no rule without an exception, but there is an exception to that rule.”
― Charles Spurgeon

Have faith💚


36 thoughts on “Rules of Engagement

  1. I am so offended by politics at the moment that I cannot take it seriously. Because if I take it seriously I will cry instead of giving horrified little snorts of laughter. “Is this for real? Are they for real?” Seems to be my main thought. I cannot watch this unravelling but I know behind it something better will rise up – it’s got to surely. Until then yes, have faith 💕💕

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Ah, the rules. I am a rule follower to my core. (even made a career in compliance). I have not had as pleasant experience with Red Rover – the rules favor the strong. Being one of the “weak links” I’m surprised that I survived without any broken arms. But back to the premise of rules – Christ was a rule breaker in order to protect those who were deemed weak, sin-sick, unlovable. He changed the rules so that he rich and strong were not the ones guaranteed to win heaven. I’m ready for the electioneering to be over. If only more politicians were able to focus on a bipartisan approach to governance.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My heart leapt when you shared, “I’ll stay my course with my ultimate authority~to guide me and to help me set the parameters that will propel me…” For indeed it is what we are ALWAYS called to do, but why do we forget so often? Hugs to you for the welcomed reminder…especially during the current political climate we find ourselves in. 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Well said! I hadn’t heard about the politicians in Utah rising above the mess, but it is very inspiring. I think that so many people are dismayed by the false divisions we have created in our country, and it helps to know we are not alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. For many reasons, both currently and from my past, this post made me tear up. It is indeed hard to see so much division and bullying (and I agree about Facebook, the place is a dumpster fire these days). But it was also a relief to see a message to rise above. Thanks for sharing it. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Rules of engagement Karla another great thoughtful post. It is refreshing to hear about the politicians in Utah. I wonder why this does not get national attention. Like you I keep my hope in Christ and engage everyone with peace, encouragement and lovingfaith in mind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good morning and thank you for your thoughtful response. It SHOULD have had more attention than it did. I watched it on a National morning show and they commented on its positivity for all of us. And then never saw it again. It really doesn’t surprise me. So we keep our hope in Christ like you stated!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good Morning and I really do appreciate you sharing that. Good News does get the attention it is needed. That’s why God is using sweet spirited people such as yourself, that our hope is put in the right place and The almighty God love can be seen in and through us. Glory be to God for a redeemed life that becomes a living testimony.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. For a few days now I have experimented with total blackout of the media (print & TV) and I have never felt more at peace and also I have been very productive. I still watch a movie in the evening, but other than that nothing. I just felt the media was to divisive. It is like they are trying to get people to dislike one another. It is a considerable change for a person that had three newspaper subscriptions as well as a number of magazine subscriptions. Just an experience. I don’t know how long it will last, but your post got me thinking about my recent experiment. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Honest and reflective piece Karla. Other than being here on WordPress, I have never been involved with social media. But, I have seen the effects of social media in a middle school atmosphere, and the unrest is a reflection of what we see adults doing. I read of two neighbors in a suburb of Pittsburgh, one Democratic and the other Republican. Each had posted its candidate’s sign on their lawn. They continued to be civil and respectful toward each other, even sharing dinner with one another. Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it amazing when we allow respect and civility to dictate tough conversations? I use Instagram. But not Facebook. It seems Social Media and I don’t do too well together. That’s a neat story you shared. Thank you for your thoughtful response and support!


  9. a beautiful, empowering post; the rules of engagement; I can only think of the Ukraine War and how Comrade Putin has broken the rules of engagement: you DO NOT bomb civilians; you do not destroy cities; so far thankfully he has been restrained from using chemical or nuclear weapons; the rules of engagement are sacred: they are there for a purpose. They are to be honoured.

    Liked by 1 person

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