This has been a tough season. Soccer that is. Nothing hurts worse than playing your heart out and losing another game. No doubt to his 8 year old brain, he's convinced he will never win another game. He has natural talent and for the last four years his team has won more games than they have lost. He's flown around the field like an airplane after scoring many goals. He's pumped his fist and he has high-fived his team, feeling the glory of victory many times in his short soccer history.
This year it's different. Not many goals. Far less fist pumps and high fives. Much more disappointment. Much more soul searching. Less confidence in his ability. Less joy in the game. It hurts to lose again and again.
Last night, in the first few minutes of the game, it was obvious this would be another defeat. I sent up a silent prayer, asking for wisdom. How do I encourage my little boy after another sound defeat? When there's not a whole lot of good to speak off... what do you say?
As we walked to the car, side by side, I knew the important thing was not winning, not scored goals... but that he has learned something this year that's far more valuable... This year has taught him to keep fighting, no matter how far down you are. This year has taught him to keep kicking, no matter how many goals you miss. It's taught him that life doesn't always feel good. You don't always win.
Sometimes, you have long, sucky seasons, but you don't give up. You play hard the whole game. You don't hang your head when you get down a few goals. You keep trying. Most importantly, LOSING WON'T KILL YOU.
David in Psalms says, "I KNOW, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that you in FAITHFULNESS have afflicted me." Psalm 119:75
"It is GOOD that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71
affliction- to distress with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly. to overthrow, to humble.,
Good to be in pain? Good to hurt. How could this be?
Like my soccer player, I was used to winning. Life came pretty easy to me. I had everything I could ever want... My Husband, my love. My children. Family. Friends. In the beginning, it all came so freely, I never had to work for anything. I knew that the face of God was shining down on me. However, one day that changed. I still had all the good things in my life, but I didn't feel like I was winning anymore. Life was hard. My relationships brought me no joy. I was lonely. An intense loneliness that ate away at my soul. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't find in any human what I so desperately longed for. This season lasted a few years and I thought I was just destined to be filled with this lonely ache forever. I cried. I was depressed. I was hopeless.
Finally, one day I started praying. Instead of blaming God for ruining my life, I started asking Why? What was the purpose. What was he trying to show me. What was I missing. Instead of believing myself unworthy, I decided to trust that God had a plan.
That's when things started to change... He began to speak softly to my soul about how much I was truly loved- by HIM. How valuable I am- to HIM. Others can never, ever truly love me the way God can. Even the love of a cherished spouse can not fulfill the aching longing in my soul for connection with God.
He had to get me alone to speak softly to my soul and heal my deepest hurts. When others didn't want me... He did. When I was lonely... He was by side. When I was hurting... He was there to comfort me. When I could share my secret thoughts with no one... He already knew them.
I NEEDED to be completely alone with God. I needed to know that my worth and value was not in what other people thought about me. I needed to know that no matter who forsakes me... Jesus never will.
I had gone hard after other lovers... I cared more about what people thought about me, than what He said in His word about me. I wanted human affection, validation, and love, more than my Creator's, but they could never satisfy my soul.
I LOVE these verses in Hosea, because they speak perfectly to my season of loneliness...
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her heart." Hosea 2:14
He called me to the wilderness to speak comfort to my soul. He afflicted me with loneliness, not to destroy me, but to heal me. His words of peace and love have soothed the old wounds. The feelings of being unworthy, replaced by the sure knowledge that the One who created me desires me. He is my beloved and I am His.
These words were spoken by the prophet Isaiah to Israel, but I claim them as my own...
"But now this is what the Lord who created you says...He that formed you,...'Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; YOU ARE MINE."
"Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you..." Isaiah 43:4
There is no love that can compare to the love of God. I'm thankful for this season in my life. I have peace that I didn't have before. I know now that no matter what happens in my life... Jesus is with me. Nothing can separate me from His love. I am his and he is mine.
I don't know what kind of season you are in, but I know that there is purpose for our pain. Sometimes, we need to be broken to be healed. Sometimes we need to have a losing season to learn valuable lessons you don't learn from victory.
We need to know that it's not how many goals we score that makes us important. It's not winning that gives us worth. When your name isn't being shouted. When your head hangs low in defeat.... you can learn the most important lessons. You are loved because He is good. You are valuable because He created you. You can press on and give all you have, even if you are losing. You will NOT die... no matter how much it hurts.
I'm thankful for this losing season... It hurts so good.