Family · Joy

Almost Winning



Jackson’s basketball team has come a long way. In their first game of the season, they entered the third quarter trailing just a little behind the opponent with a score of 32-0. Bless their hearts. When a boy in blue finally scored, all of the parents screamed and cheered as if we’d just nailed the NBA finals.

Last week, we were neck in neck with another team. For an elementary school rec league game, it was very exciting. It had all the makings of an emotional game:  the referees played a little fast and loose with the rules; the boys took bold chances with buzzer-beating three-pointer attempts; they scored; we scored; they fouled; we fouled; regular battles of tug-of-war with the ball kept the possession arrow hopping. Everything came down to the last few seconds of the game. When the buzzer finally sounded, the other team was up by two.

A couple boys on Jackson’s team had tasted the victory that was so close. With crushing disappointment, they shook hands with the opponents and then burst into tears. Their parents comforted them and encouraged them with praise of how much our team is improving.

As Jackson sat down beside me to settle in for his older brother’s game, he looked a bit confused. “I don’t understand why those boys were crying.” He raised his voice into a question at the end of the sentence.

“Because your team almost won, but then you lost. They were disappointed,” I explained.

Jackson grinned up at me, “Yeah, we almost won! That’s why we should be happy. We almost won.”

And there it is. Perspective. The other boys, probably far more competitive by nature (like some of the other kids in my house), were disappointed that they came so close to victory, but didn’t snag it. Jackson, my least competitive child, was thrilled that they almost won – you know, instead of losing by 30 points.

It can be good to have a hunger for the win. I can be just as competitive as the next girl. (And it isn’t always pretty, which is why I cannot play board games with certain people and still be right with Jesus.) But when we lose in life, – and we will – we get to choose our perspective. We can celebrate improvements and be encouraged by the almost-wins, or we can be crushed by disappointment and discouragement.

I just know this – after that game, Jackson was happy and at peace, with his trademark giant smile lighting up the gym. So sign me up for some of that perspective, please.


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