Sunday, October 20, 2013

Footblog #9: Sometimes, You're Going to Lose

It's true. There's nothing you can do about it. Whatever the circumstances, the other team is just too tough, or you're not prepared, or something takes you by surprise and, sometimes, you're going to lose. End of story. Last week was a pretty rough week for me. After going 5-0, my Wolverines finally lost and, of all teams, it was to Penn State. Penn State!? Really? It's not like we lost to Western, but still. They're not a real powerhouse, and we had no good excuse. Especially after the great game we'd had the week before. Was it just bad luck? Was it a lack of preparation? Was it an underestimation of the other team's skills? Was it the 'all stadium white-out' in Happy Valley? Whatever it was, it made me angry, and frustrated, and I said approximately 427 words I should not have said out loud. Or probably even thought.

1 Timothy 6:12 says that we are to "Fight the good fight of faith."  Hebrews 12:1-3 says, "...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Why are we given these instructions? If we were to have the great fortune of winning every single time, we wouldn't need this sort of encouragement, would we? It's plain to see that we are going to have trials in this life, and some of them are going to be mighty big, my friend. We're going to lose people to death, to betrayal, to disease, to drugs and other addictions. We're going to endure painful hardships the likes of which we haven't even the heart to think of right now. There are close friends with whom we are not going to have the ability to share eternity, and that's perhaps the most heartbreaking part of it all. Some, no matter how many times they hear, no matter how many ways the story is told, no matter how much you beg or plead or prove or try or cry or pray, they're not going to listen.

Sometimes, you're going to lose.

But take heart, because the very One for whom and in whom we are living, though He emerged victorious, He has also felt the pain of loss. Everyone that hurts you, hurts Him. Everyone who betrays you, betrays Him.  The pains of this world, that are common to this world, every single one affects Him as well. Remember the verse above, particularly the part that says, "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Sometimes, you're going to lose.

I used to play video games a lot as a kid growing up, most in arcades but also on Atari, Nintendo, you name it. Space Invaders, PacMan, even Pong. I loved that you always had the option to continue after your game was over. You could choose to put another quarter in and pick up right where you left off. Your little cartoon death wasn't the end. Your failure wasn't that bad. You could brush yourself off and, with the click of a joystick button, be right back up there climbing the rickety ladders to save the princess from the monkey. I saved her once or twice. I lost pretty often. I was spectacular at Galaga and Tetris but, no matter how honed my mad skillz were, I still made mistakes.

Sometimes, you're going to lose.

But don't lose heart. You can feel free to add whichever cliche you like best: Tomorrow is another day, all's well that ends well, every dog has its day, put another quarter in the game and continue, ad nauseum. But the real point is this: whether you win or lose, God's got it. It's in the palm of His hand. All you can do is your very best, all the time, praying all the while, and look to Him for guidance. Maybe you were meant to lose a particular game. Maybe the learning you'll do in the process is worth a thousand wins. Maybe, just maybe, God knows what He's doing, hmm? (Spoiler alert: He does!)

I just happened to write this footblog after TWO games: the tragic loss of last week, and the consequential win of this week. If you don't let yourself become deflated and lose heart after a loss, you're bound to get right back in the swing of things. Usually, I'm one to holler "GO BLUE!" at the top of my lungs, but in case you need a little bit of encouragement, I'll throw this one out there instead:


Stephanie Jean

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Footblog #8: Perseverance and Positivity

The Little Brown Jug
(Trophy of the game between Michigan and Minnesota)
After the extremely necessary bye week, we won our first Big Ten game on Saturday against Minnesota. The last several games have looked more than a bit lackluster, and we struggled to pull through against teams that we should have been easily defeating. This week, I watched what I like to call the 'real' team; instead of making mistake after mistake and just squeaking by with a win at the end, the Wolverines gave it their all and it certainly showed. Obviously it wasn't a perfect game, but we're once again building momentum, have learned from our mistakes, and are a force to be reckoned with. Our teammates needed to trust the coach, keep a positive attitude, and persevere.

It begs the question: with a little perseverance and positivity, how far could each of us go in our own lives? Are we going to give up at the slightest mention of a difficult situation just because we don't think we have the strength, the patience, the gumption to tackle it? Are we going to allow ourselves to get mired down in a depression when things don't go our way?

My day yesterday, for instance, was pretty cut and dry. I was supposed to have a short photo shoot for the magazine I work for, then a six hour shift at my second job; then I was going to go home to change and drive to Elkhart to clean a new house (my third job.) All of that happened until I got about five minutes into the drive to Elkhart and the serpentine belt in our only vehicle shredded like a cabbage on its way to becoming cole slaw (okay, so my similes need some work). The power steering immediately went out, and I had to stop driving 60 MPH, pull off to a county road, and let it coast off the edge because it died completely, then call my husband to have him call my father-in-law for a rescue, then call a tow truck, text the client I had to let down for the evening, and spend the night at home.

My options:

1) Trust God to take care of this situation, remain positive, and persevere
2) Panic, rant, and become an emotional train wreck

Thankfully, I chose option #1. I've spent a great deal of time in my past trying to control every single situation down to the most minute details and then having panic attacks and depression when things don't go my way. I've chosen option #2 more times than I'd like to admit, and it's NEVER ONCE been the right choice. For all that panicking, ranting, sobbing, woe-is-me-ing that I've done, it's only been when I turn things over to God that the situation begins to improve. Eventually, I learned to go there first. (Duh. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you." You'd think I'd have learned it after I'd read it four or five times, huh?)

So, I'm sans vehicle with plenty of plans for the upcoming week, but I know that God's Got This and I don't need to spend a moment of time worrying about it. If the car no longer works and can't be fixed, then He's got something else in mind for us. If the car costs $1000 to fix, He's got a way to provide it for us. My job is to trust Him, keep a positive attitude, and keep working toward the goals He has for me.

Stephanie Jean