When You Don't Win

Like in life. I know it's not realistic to expect to get what I want all the time.
Like in life. I know it's not realistic to expect to get what I want all the time. (Charisma archives)

Ahhhhh, cake walks. The anticipation of maybe, just maybe, hearing your number called and getting to choose the cake of your dreams.

I actually remember one particular cake walk from sometime when I was in elementary school. I won! I walked over to the table and chose the cake I had had my eye on all night: a sheet cake decorated in myriad colors with the word "Mexico" and all kinds of squiggles and designs. That. cake. was. beautiful!

Recently, my children participated in a cake walk at a party. Timmy became discouraged the first few times he didn't hear his number called, so I picked him up and walked around with him. I held him for several rounds, and as time went by, and most of the other kids won cakes, Timmy began quietly fussing (read: whining). I reminded him that it's not possible to win all the time and reassured him that he still had a chance.

And then ... victory on number 19!

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By this point, Timmy was hanging his head and fussing continuously. "You won, Timmy!" I exclaimed. He continued to whine. "Timmy, you won!" I repeated. More whining.

I began to walk away from the game, toward the prize table, because I was embarrassed. Did he not understand that he had won? What was the problem?

"Timmy, why are you fussing?" I asked quietly. "You won!"

"I wanted to win lots of times," Timmy said, disappointed.

My first thought was: Be grateful you won at all!

My second thought was: Yeah, I understand, buddy. I hate it when I don't win as often as I'd like.

Like in life. I know it's not realistic to expect to get what I want all the time. But I'd like to. And sometimes, when I don't, I get disappointed.

Here are some recent times I can remember not getting what I wanted:

  • My child embarrassed me in public.
  • I tried to learn a particular skill, and it didn't turn out well at all.
  • I didn't receive an invitation I was hoping for.
  • Someone assumed the worst about my character.

These are not the only unpleasant things I've faced in the past few weeks; there have also been some that were traumatic.

But in the same time period, I've also encountered these circumstances:

  • My child spent time drawing a sweet picture for me and telling me how much she loved me.
  • I received a compliment from a student who enjoys my teaching style.
  • I was invited to have lunch with a friend.
  • Several family members went out of their way to verbally affirm their confidence in my character and their love for me.

So, I have a choice. I can complain that I had to face the first set of circumstances, or I can rejoice that I experienced the second.

It's the same choice you have when you're disappointed.

Grieve if you need to; it's OK!

But don't forget the good things.

Job 1:21 says, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (KJV).

Adapted from Megan Breedlove's blog, Manna for Moms. Megan is the author of Well Done, Good and Faithful Mommy and Manna for Moms: God's Provision for Your Hair-Raising, Miracle-Filled Mothering Adventure (Regal Books.) She is also a stay-at-home mom with 5 children. 

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