Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. We spent the day with my family and had a great time.
Part of our tradition is to play football. We typically play in the morning. It now includes many friends, and friends of friends, in addition to our family. Yesterday I probably played the best I ever have in any other year. It was a lot of fun and our team actually won (we usually don't). But the best part was not that.
I was really impressed with those on the other team. They didn't give up. They didn't complain. They had fun even though they were getting beat. That probably seems pretty elementary, but I've always been very competitive and, quite frankly, I'm a bad loser. I try not to be, but more often than not I give in to my lower nature and gripe, complain, and sometimes get very angry because I'm losing. I realized yesterday that winning and losing are more than they first appear.
If in the kingdom of heaven our worldly values are turned on their ear, then it is most likely the losers who are the true winners- but not always. It's more about how we win or lose than that we win or lose. If we can show love and fairness as well as competition and effort then we are winners whether the scoreboard reflects it or not. But if we lose the sense of our character, and compromise all in the effort to win only to become very nasty if we lose, then we are losers either way. I realize these are lessons I should have learned a long time ago. I understand the concepts. I still have problems living it out.
After the game was over we gathered for prayer to thank God for the fun we had, that no one got hurt, and for the many blessings we enjoy in this country. The one leading prayed also that we would be given the opportunity to return next year and bring glory to God by playing again. It reflected what St. Paul wrote: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus," (Col. 3:17). This man was on the losing team, but he acted and prayed like a winner. I'm sure he was.
It's highly unlikely that I will play as well next year, or even the next time I play. As I am getting older I tend to lose at more physical contests than win. But win or lose, regardless the game or circumstances, I hope I will remember the example I saw yesterday and choose the same.