Friday, May 13, 2016

Leaping Into the Pool of Grace

As I've been helping my friend prepare for a life-changing move, we've taken work breaks to play a German board game called "Mensch argere dich nicht" (which translates to something like "Man, don't get angry").  Although it seems a simple-enough game, there's a certain amount of strategy involved.  There's also an equal portion of luck.  The outcome is generally unpredictable until the game is over.

It's really fun.  But it has also been eye-opening.  As we have played and as we have reflected on our lives, my friend and I realized something about ourselves and our individual histories in life:  her mother taught her how to win, mine taught me how to lose. 

Those early lessons have shaped who we have become as individuals. 

My friend surprised me by her fierceness in battling the game to the very last roll if the dice--that's something I admire but am not capable of; I lack a fighter's instincts.  She has also been surprisingly patient with my continual errors.  Given my disability issues, I have often mistaken moves and have also sometimes forgotten how to count while moving my game pieces.  (True enough:  never ask me to count beyond ten because I can't, and be sure to expect me to get confused in the muddy regions between three and six.  My addled head just doesn't comprehend digits.)

And it seems that I surprised her with my genuine amusement in both failure and success.  No matter what game I play, I see myself as the only opponent.  I'd like to play well but I truly don't care whether I win and I believe that I'll learn something when I lose.  It's fun either way.

It takes mighty practice to hone a keen edge on the desire to win.  That knowledge serves her well.  If my friend were not a fighter, she might have suffered much more difficulty during this time of overwhelming life changes.  Her willingness to face the battle is praiseworthy.

Oddly enough, learning to lose is also a matter of some difficulty.  It required diligent practice for me to learn to face defeat with a smile; now such a thing is second-nature.  This knowledge has served my life in very necessary ways as I deal daily with battles that I cannot hope to win.

Our lives are not a matter of a roll of the dice.  God has a plan in place for each of us.  He does not smooth the path in front of us but he gives us the tools to make the way ourselves.  I can see that clearly as my friend and I set the game board to play again--God has given us just what we need to be strong, no matter if that means that the skill is fighting to win or accepting loss while still battling on.

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