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Poker face


The Life Less Traveled


July 10, 2013
I'm not much of a card player, but I do think I'd be awesome on one of those poker TV shows. Why? Because I think the whole stoic poker face strategy is way overrated. As for me, I would do just the opposite. I would totally mess with my opponents' heads by being as expressive and annoying as possible. Let me explain.

I would start by humming Kenny Rogers songs. This would subtly convince the other players that I am indeed a professional gambler. Then, whenever I got a new card, I would say things like: "cha-ching," "holy cow," "YES!" or "Why me, God, why?"

Next, as the tournament heated up, I'd ramp up my game with some of the following techniques: Pick up my cell phone, call a lawyer and begin bankruptcy procedures. Sing the "Hallelujah" chorus at the top of my lungs. Hop on the table and do the "running man." Weep uncontrollably.

By the end of the tournament, my opponents would be so unnerved they wouldn't be able to think straight, making my victory swift and certain.

It may take a little while to get my career established on the professional poker circuit. In the meantime, though, I think I need to work on my everyday poker face, because, like many of us, I have a good one. I'm a private person and skilled at keeping my emotions to myself. I'm independent. I don't like sharing my problems or asking for help.

I'm not sure if this is a guy thing, an introvert thing or just a me thing, but I do know sometimes it isn't a good thing. It isolates me and keeps me from inviting other people into the deeper places of my heart. It robs me of the wisdom I need from having others speak into my life.

Practicing discretion is one thing. Keeping people at a distance is another.

Whether we're introverts, extroverts, male or female, God designed us to live in community with one another. We're at our best when we're transparent and dependent. We're made to know each other and be known and to share each other's burdens and victories. We're made to be part of an extended family that's not necessarily related by blood but by sharing our lives.

Because this doesn't come naturally to me, I have to push myself into it. I have to seek out people with whom to go deeper. And when I get the chance, I have to take off my poker face and ante up by sharing what's really going on in my heart. Opening up to others may feel like a gamble, but it's the only way we'll ever win the jackpot of real community.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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