Phlebotomic is a blog experiment that seeks to gather multiple perspectives around a common prompt, which is provided weekly.

Last week's prompt was "Beauty"...

This week's prompt is "Path"...

28 January 2009

Victory - From the Jaws of Defeat

Over the course of my athletic career, spanning from elementary school through college, I participated in over a thousand sporting events. I have tasted the sweetness of victory, and also drank the bitterness of its counterpart, defeat. I stood tall as my teams won districts, regions, sub-states, and participated in state championships. I have hoisted banners, and hosted NCAA games. If my arithmetic is correct, I have, in basketball, a .800 lifetime winning percentage. Personally, I received the accolades that a fairly accomplished player usually merits, All-Star teams, All-State/Region/District, Player of the Week/Month, All-Tournament etc. All those victories and prizes never really fostered the improvement that perfecting my craft required. They usually just resulted in the growth of my ego and our collective team ego. They also set me (and my teammates) up for some shocking defeats due to lack of preparation or improvement. My most profound lessons were learned in the wake of my most staggering defeats, after failing and losing, and these continue to this day.

I was always told after defeat to hold my head high, as we had given it our all, so we had nothing to be ashamed for nor any reason to lower our gaze. There were many angry nights, wondering what went wrong, why did that happen, and when would it get better. However, I always learned from my defeats. My coaches would show tapes, review the busted plays, missed assignments, lost opportunities to gain an advantage, and other shortfalls that led to the defeat. And from these, we would usually grow as players. In the essence of a phoenix, we would rise from the ashes of our losses, and improve to win. We would practice harder, lift more weight, run just one more lap or sprint, groove our shots with more shooting, and prepare more thoroughly. It was, basically, because of our losses that we were successful. Without those shortfalls and lessons, the improvements would never have been made. Or perhaps my coaches would have tried to show what we needed to do, yet their supplications would have fallen on deaf ears, because we had been winning, so what did we need to learn? But after those tortuous defeats, oftentimes by "lesser" foes, we were hungry, willing, and able to listen, to learn, and to grow.

In my post-athletic life, this truism still is "played out." When I mess up, which is often, this is when my personal growth occurs. God, as my "coach," shows me where I need to shore up my defense, or improve my play making ability, and, because I know my weakness, I am able to listen, to learn, and to grow. He uses His Word, the words of others, the lives of others, and just His still, small voice to show me where I need to grow, and how to do it. But, if I hadn't had the defeat, I would not be ready and prepared for the victories that will be coming. As many have said, at the mountaintop is not where things are growing, it is in the depths of the valleys where growth occurs. I guess the lesson is to not wait for the defeat. Use your time on this earth wisely, and let your growth be constant. Let God show you where you need to grow, where you need to improve, and where His presence needs to be made known, in your life, and the lives of those He puts in your path.

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