If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same;
You might recognize this quote from Rudyard Kipling's famous poem, If.
There are situations throughout our lives where it is easy, based on our successes and our
failures, to feel as if we will be defined by that very situation.
I was fired, and now I'm going to have to explain that to every boss I ever work for. What does
this say about me?
I didn't get accepted to the school I hoped for. I must not be smart enough for that school.
What does that mean for my future? I made a huge mistake in front of a lot of people. Surely, nobody will ever forget, and I'll always be that guy. Or even on the flip side:
I totally crushed it in there, I'm on my way, I'll always be remembered as the guy.
We won the National Championship, we are now immortal, this is the greatest thing I'll ever do.
If you can meet with both Triump & Disaster...
Both can lie to us, and have us believing that this, whatever this is at the given moment, is it.
I came across this quote the other day:
At any given moment, you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.
A few years ago, I went through a significantly challenging situation. I've alluded it to it before
here, but it was something that I was unsure if I was going to recover from. There was
definitely a feeling of, "my story has been written, and this is it". I felt like my career,
relationships, and personal life were going to be affected forever. In the moment, in those
moments, the feeling can be suffocating.
For a more trivial example:
When I was in high school, I had an unbelievable opportunity to dunk in a basketball game
during my sophomore year. The ball bounced just between me and a 5'6'' guy who could dunk
in his sleep, but this was going to be MY moment. There was nobody in between me and the
rim, and I just new I was about to hammer it. The gym was going to go crazy, the NBA scouts
in the gym who were there to watch our 6'11'' Junior were surely going to start throwing big
time money my way. Little kids would soon be wearing my #25 jersey to their elementary
Except I missed it. The ball bounced off of the back of the rim, the other team corralled the
rebound, and took it the other way.
I got pulled out of the game soon after, and watched all of my plans go down the drain. No
NBA contract, no Hendley replica jerseys, it was all gone. In that moment, all I could imagine were all of the questions that were sure to follow the next day at school about how and why I missed the dunk. Maybe all the times I'd dunked in practice were just a fluke, maybe I couldn't dunk at all. Was I going to forever be that guy who missed that dunk that time? It sounds silly now, it was just a game, just a dunk, just a moment.
But the truth is, for many of us, the moment changes, but the fear remains the same. We are
filled with fear after big moments of "failure" because we think they will haunt us forever, or
we avoid opportunities that are presented to us because of the fear that abides in us, usually a "what if" fear. The interesting thing is, I don't even remember the response from all the people I was worried about. I think most people were pretty stoked that I'd tried. I might've taken some ribbing from some teammates, but even then, I can't really remember. It was years ago, I remember the moment, and I over-emphasize the thoughts I was having for dramatic effect, but just as soon as it began, it was over. Life went on. Nobody remembers me as that guy. And even if they did....They don't get to define me...That's for me...And Jesus The rest of the story is still unwritten, it's not over, this will not define you.
From a Christian perspective, we should take heart in the fact that we have been defined by the fact that we belong to Jesus. We have been created in His image, saved by His grace, and we know, ultimately, how our story ends. A missed dunk, a messed up presentation, a failed marriage, a career mistake, or a grand victory can't change that. When we get to Heaven, our name tag won't say basketball coach, dunk misser, teacher, divorce', or any other number of labels we may weigh ourselves down with. It will simply say, "I belong to Jesus" We've already been defined. And THIS ain't it. Much Love, Bryan