Is life all about winning and losing? Sometimes it seems like it is. We value winners, put them on pedestals, cheer for them, and in some cases we worship them. Everyone loves a winner right? What about the losers? Are the losers of any lesser value just because they didn’t win?
Our country has just finished electing our leaders for the next few years. There were some predictable results, some close races and some definite surprises. Time will tell how well we chose.
I know very few of the candidates personally and I am curious what their reactions were to the results. Were there angry words, gracious defeats, boasting, or bragging? How we handle winning and losing says a lot about us as individuals.
I am a leader for the young women in our church’s youth organization. This holiday weekend they participated in a two-day basketball tournament. I have had cause to reflect on what the point was of our participation. Our team was not the most prepared or the most skilled team in the competition. We had a pretty young team too.
The other leaders and I had to decide what was most important for the girls on our team. Was it the most important thing to play our strongest team all the time thereby giving us the best possible chance to win our games? Should winning be our only focus?
I am grateful that we chose to have all our girls participate regardless of their experience level, age or the game’s score. I watched as our girls bravely played their best in every game with little success to show for their efforts.
These girls could have been emotionally crushed, angry, or vengeful. They could have even refused to play. However, what I watched was little rose buds blossom into beautiful roses.
They played for every possession with determination never once giving up even when winning had become a definite impossibility. They played with sportsmanship never retaliating when others played unfairly or when a referee made a call they disagreed with. When they were knocked to the floor they got back up.
When they knocked others over they helped them up making sure they were okay. I didn’t hear any of them say anything bad about the others girls on the other teams which is so common in today’s world of trash-talk sports.
I know no one likes to lose but knowing how to do it with grace is an important life lesson. None of us is a perfect person in sports or life. We all make mistakes. If we place our value in life on being the best at whatever we do, we can often lose all hope if we aren’t always the best, smartest, or winning all the time. No one is the best all the time and no one stays the best forever. When we learn to value the experience we have had, the effort we made and the lessons we learned instead of just the end result we will be happier, and able to handle failure without thinking we are failures.
The world is full of examples of those who didn’t let their failures define them. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Thomas Edison who invented the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera was told by a school teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lack of imagination and new ideas. Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight elections. Albert Einstein flunked math in school. The Decca Recording Studio rejected the Beatles saying they didn’t like their sound and that guitar music wasn’t popular anymore. Failure is a part of life – if you haven’t failed you haven’t lived.
Often when we fail we label ourselves as failures. We need to remember that we are more than our mistakes and failures. Who we are is so much more than just what we have failed at.
I love the lyrics of the song “You are More” by Tenth Avenue North. Part of the song goes like this:
“You are more than the choices that you’ve made.
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes.
You are more than the problems you create.
You’ve been remade.
Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to.”
Where does our brokenness bring us to? Do we rise up and try again? Do we persevere when life is hard, unfair or just plain ugly? Do we reach deep within ourselves and find our true identity that has absolutely nothing to do with our wins or losses in this life?
Maybe your efforts to be positive and patient in the low times in your life will be the example of strength someone else sees that will help them through their failures or discouraging times. We are all on this journey of life together. It’s a much happier ride when we help and encourage each other and remember that who we really are, and who the people next to us are, has nothing to do with the losses, mistakes and failures in our lives or theirs’.
I am more.
You are more.
We are more.
Rebecca has lived in Samoa for 19 years. She is a mother of five boys, jack of all trades, and loves a good story.