Been thinking on humility lately and that put me in mind of moments when I learned it. I wrote a short story once about a boy who comes to bat and hits a grand slam, game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth. I wrote that story out of personal experience. Twice I got up to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, but both times I struck out. Twice, with two different teams, I walked off the field having let down my coach, every teammate and parent on our side. I know how miserable feels.
I spoke at my college baccalaureate and had seated in front of me every important person in my life at that moment. I was one of two students chosen by the rest of the class to speak at this service on the eve of graduation. It was there that I completely lost my place in my speech just a paragraph into it, couldn’t find any way to move ahead with an incredibly dense silence hanging around me and finally ended up reading, simply reading, my outline. I know how empty feels.
I closed a church that I founded. A small group in that church sought to recreate the nature of the church and I couldn’t recapture their hearts to help them recognize what we had or how we were doing things. They couldn’t hear the mission of the church and so they left with destruction in their wake. After a last worship service and giving away all the material goods of the church, I locked up the doors and left without a job prospect. I know how defeated feels.
These aren’t all the times I missed but they were significant.
I know what it means to come up short, to forget, to pick wrong, to reveal too much, to enable users, to allow others to think what isn’t true, to choke, to not pay attention. I know how losing feels. I know what it feels like when a little piece of my soul goes dead.
And one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t win life.
You live life.
It didn’t teach me this initially. At first all I learned was that I was a loser. Other people can be great instructors of that. I didn’t learn to try harder or to give it another shot or to find a way. I learned I was worthless and I pretty much accepted that. I grew in deep, dark confidence that I was a loser, until I came upon people who had lost more than me. But when I found them they were not caring about losing or winning. They were caring about people. And the reason they cared about people was because Jesus cared for them.
It was through them that I learned to surrender.
I’ve learned that I am not the center. I saw the destruction of so many kinds in my life was re-handled, cleaned, cleared and reshaped. It lead me to see how big life is once again. It made everything slow down, get wider, taller, and thicker. Losing wasn’t as real as living. Neither was winning.
Not too long ago, I had a friend turn to me and in joyful evaluation of an event at church say, “Well, I’d call that a success.” And I didn’t know what to say. I suddenly realized that I didn’t evaluate success the same way anymore. I didn’t evaluate myself the same way anymore.