We all experience winning and losing in all areas of life, don’t we?

A game like the Super Bowl takes those win/loss moments and infuses them with steroids. As a full-on championship game, the pinnacle of the sport of football, it places ultimate importance on the outcome of the game.

My team’s loss in yesterday’s game gave me pause to examine my own focus, and how I handle wins and losses. (Warning, long post ahead, grab some coffee!)

Winning and losing? Or just Plan A vs Plan B?

Except in sports, when a trophy can only be given to one side or the other, most of our wins and losses in life aren’t all that black-and-white. Often instead of Plan A, the “win,” we end up with Plan B. While it’s tempting to see Plan B as the loss, it’s important to recognize that we may only be redirected…not losing. It’s a matter of perspective.

There’s a country song by Rascal Flatts called Bless the Broken Road – and the lyric that catches me is, “It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.”  Looking for that grander plan is what keeps me going when I feel I’ve suffered a loss; because I know God’s got a plan. He’s not surprised by my loss, and often He was using that loss to redirect my path to His plan. 

If I always won – if my Plan A was always the same as my destiny – I’d take a lot more credit for my successes than I deserve. And if it’s my plan and ends up as a failure, I can be crushed by a loss. If I can look at those failures as readjustments – nudging me back on track, or refining me or teaching me – then I don’t feel the ownership (and pain) of a loss at such a personal level.

The Seahawks, as a franchise, are new to the status of being a team on top. Yes, they won last year’s title, but they’re no dynasty yet. Getting knocked off that pedestal may just serve to remind them that the “dynasty” status of repeat winners isn’t something to take for granted – and bring them back stronger than ever next year.

Learning from losses

If we come away from winning and losing experiences without growing from the experience, we miss the point. If the Seahawks don’t become a better, stronger team because of their loss, then they might as well never have gone to Arizona to play in the Super Bowl. If the Patriots only put their trophy on a shelf and pat themselves on the back, then their win is only a piece of metal.

Learning and growing is what keeps life interesting. I’ve had times in my life when I whined at God that I just wanted life to calm down, to stabilize, I just wanted to be in a groove of my own and not get stretched. But those times quickly go from being a respite to a dry desert! Growing pains might not be the most pleasant, but they refine us and prepare us for our future experiences.

As hard as it is, staying engaged in activities that push me, that press me to try things I’ve never tried and often will fail at…those are the times I feel most alive. I’ve been in a crazy creative season for almost a year now, and I’ve been feeling desperate to hang onto it; I fear the day that I dry up on ideas! Being willing to try new things, even when they end up in the trash, is what’s keeping me stretching – and alive.

An exercise in sportsmanship

Watching post-game interviews with my Seahawks, I was struck by the graciousness expressed toward their opponents. I’m not at all certain if they actually felt that way; as a fan, I was devastated enough by the loss that I’m sure at least some of them would have liked to share some choice words with reporters. But…they didn’t. And I think that will stand them in good stead as they process this defeat.

Often the exercise of walking the walk and talking the talk helps us to develop that heart of a good sport. Saying the “right” things out loud – those gracious, kind statements that your heart is screaming are unfair – saying them aloud can help us eventually start to believe it. “Fake it til you make it,” as the old adage goes.

When I get slapped by something that stings, I grumble to myself—and I really don’t like that small, petty version of me. That sulky me is no fun. I relish the opportunities to have to share with others about the thing that stung me. I want others to think of me as a mature person, so I search my mind for the mature things that I “ought” to feel, and say them. Even with a fake smile on my face. That’s the first step toward getting my hurt heart to grow up too….and eventually I do end up feeling those more mature feelings.

Enjoy the journey, enjoy every moment,
and quit worrying about winning and losing.
-Matt Biondi

All that said – yes, the loss yesterday stings. I’ve been public enough with my support for the Seahawks (this painting and this video, for starters!) that my first thoughts weren’t of great congratulations to the Patriots. Just ask my friends at the Super Bowl party I went to! I knew I’d get a ton of grief from my Patriot-supporting friends, and I didn’t really want to face that. But…the exercise of writing this blog post has helped process the loss a bit, and come out with something positive from it. Yay for blogging, eh?

Congratulations to our opponents!

When I posted my Seahawks art recently, some friendly taunting of course happened in the comments sections of various social media. The usual light-hearted jabbing that we all seem to do. Some folks asked if I planned to do a Patriots version of yesterday’s video – and I promised that if the Pats did win, I’d do a card with their uniforms too! (Sorry, no time to shoot a video, but you can see the Hawks one HERE.)

Sandy Allnock Congrats Pats

This was an alternate layout of the stamps from yesterday’s video post – this time the cheerleader is being backed up by her team!

Sandy Allnock CongratsPats

Giveaway

I’m going to give away this card! Leave a comment before midnight Thursday and I’ll post a winner on Friday. And just to keep everything on the happy side, I’m going to ask everyone to comment on your favorite moment the OTHER team had in the game last night. Yeah I know, I’m asking a lot…but this whole blog post is an exercise in processing winning and losing, right?

For me, as much as it *stung*, I loved that last little interception by Malcolm Butler. It was an underdog moment – and I loved seeing his expression when it dawned on him what he had just done. If only we all could be in the right place at the right time like that!

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PS! I just reached a little milestone over at Patreon – and celebrated by shooting a special patron-only video: my art journal! Many many thanks to my patrons for your amazing support!! No winning and losing when you’re a patron…it’s all wins!