From the Rev, Feb. 4, 2015

Dear Friends,
So…did your team win in the Super Bowl on Sunday? This may put my manhood into question but I really didn’t care who won. One of the reasons Beth married me 27 years ago is because I’m not a football fanatic. Oh, I enjoy a good game but my spirit is not crushed when my favorite team loses.

I remember going to a Super Bowl party with a bunch of junior high kids some years ago. One of the boys was so upset when his team lost that he broke into tears. This was his first sports fan heartbreak, maybe even his first significant life defeat, the first time he found out what it was like to really wish for something and then to lose. In spite of your best effort, best energy, even your best prayers…the game is over and you are on the wrong end of the score.

That’s the truth about life, isn’t it? Whether in sports or in any meaningful life endeavor, in order for someone to win, someone has to lose. If someone is chosen, someone is passed over. You try out for a great job but never get the next interview. You pursue a love relationship and your heart is broken. You train for months but you come in second.

“Loss Happens.” Maybe the most important question to consider…not just in the loss of a mere football game but for all the losses we experience…is how do we respond to the inevitability of failure? Loss is just a part of life. If you care enough about something, if you find something or someone to be passionate about, if you try your best and take the risk to jump in, some days you will just lose. You will be beaten. You will fail. There is no way around this reality.

In our culture losers are easily dismissed. But I wonder…is it always so bad to lose? To be defeated? To compete fair and square but still come up on the short end of the score? Questions such as those sound almost heretical when everything these days feels like a never-ending competition. I kept listening for the Seahawks fans to start chanting “We’re number 2! We’re number 2!” after their defeat on Sunday but I never heard it.

So here’s a shout out to all the losers in this life…the ones who don’t make the front page or win the gold medal…the ones who compete and fall short but do not cheat or cut corners in that effort. They lose well. The ones in second place who congratulate their victorious opponents with grace and then walk off the field with their heads held high. They know defeat but they aren’t crushed. To the courageous folks who get out there every day and try their best to raise a family, to work a job, and to make this world a better place.

To lose and lose well and yet not be defeated. Theodore Roosevelt experienced great loss in his life. In one day his mother and his wife both died. He faced bitter political loss: after having triumphantly served as President, he was trounced in an independent bid for the Presidency. He suffered all of his life with terrible eye problems and chronic asthma. And yet, he showed up every day to play and to fight and to compete. As he declared:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Yes, sometimes we lose. The question is: will we be defeated?

You are loved,