Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. –Matthew 6:9-13
I am an analytical person. I think about all the possibilities, the permutations, the psychology, the mentality, the strategies, the tactics in the things I take part in. Thinking about what happened that Saturday, I couldn’t really get it out of my head. Always thinking about all the possible options that I could have taken. The plays that I could have made. The mistakes I made. The error that sealed up what could have been. When you’re so close to doing something incredible, only to suffer and fall to the hands of defeat. It’s that feeling that you really never want to feel.
I had been in a rut for a couple of weeks now. A few weeks back, I was in a tournament. What kind of tournament wasn’t really important, but the fact of the matter was that there was one that I took part in and depending on my finish, I could have played in nationals. That’s all I’ll say. I had spent a few weeks preparing for it, with a specific mindset and strategy in hand to only audible and change my strategy entirely. It was a huge gamble, but I felt it was worth it given the conditions and knowledge that I had about my competition.
So I come in to the venue, nervous but ready. For a guy that hadn’t been on the tournament scene for a couple of years, it felt like I hadn’t left. The competitors that were there, the people I knew, the overall feel was just there. Then the tournament began.
I started playing and I had won… and again… and again… and eventually made it four straight rounds. I had to admit, I was rather surprised at where I was at. I was on a bit of a high. Then I came back down to Earth and lost for the first time that day before winning my sixth round. Standings showed that I was in fourth place overall with two rounds left. What needed to happen was win and I would be in. One win.
The nerves were getting to me. To be so close to accomplishing something so big would have been a huge achievement for me. But as I was waiting for my next match, I just sat down and started praying. My prayer was simple: “God, just let Your will be done with all this. Let Your will be done.” I kept repeating this over and over to myself.
Then I received my match-up. We played. Things didn’t go as I had hoped. I started struggling to get through, my nervousness started to get me flustered and make mistakes. I started losing. And then the error. The one error that cost me everything. I had a chance, but the error left me with no chance at coming back. I was in complete disbelief and shock at myself. A self-inflicted error. I tried to keep my composure during the game to prevent sending any sort of tell to my opponent. But it didn’t matter. I lost and was out of the running.
I finished the last round and ended up 24th in the standings. It was my second best performance ever, but the more I thought about it, the more the thoughts of what I could have done kept winding through my head. “What if I did this? What if I didn’t make that error? What would have happened if I had won my first six matches?” Just all these thoughts of what could have been… I drive home eventually after dinner with some friends that went, thinking. I started writing and putting down my thoughts and analyzing what happened. Just being so close, yet missing out in the end.
I didn’t go to church the next day because I was thinking so much that night that was what ultimately got me to finally sleep. But that day, as I got up, I started thinking specifically about that prayer that I had: For God’s will to be done. That was a bitter pill to really swallow. The only thought was, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be, I guess.” It was pretty hard to accept such a fate. I’m a very competitive person. The craving for success is a major part of who I am. To accept second-best is something I’m not really accustomed to, yet I’ve had so many times during my life where I had just fallen short of achieving something that I really wanted. Winning that one championship, finishing among the elite, earning respect among my peers and competition.
As I thought about it more and more, to not make it to nationals was what God wanted for me. What would have happened had I qualified? What kind of person would I had been? Who would have I credited for my success? I probably would have looked to myself rather than God when I think about it. Attempting to self-glory. I thought about why I had wanted it… the only reasons were simply worldly things. Success. Respect. A title. And a chance at inflating my already huge ego even more. Maybe it was a way to stop me from coming to such a temptation. So maybe it was the best for me not to qualify for nationals. Rather than a character that was full of himself, it’s left a man humbled but understanding more and more that there was ultimately something better for him out of all of it. That was really what it was all about.
God’s will is probably one of those things that I struggle with. What I feel is best for me clashes a lot of the time with what God wants out of me. Yet, all I can really do is trust in what He desires for me. I could just trust myself all the time, but I know that’s only led to dispair and disappointment as seen in my past. I know that God knows what’s best for me though. He understands who I am, my qualities, my gifts, my strengths, and my weaknesses, far more than I might think I know. He feeds me the things that need at any very moment in time for the sake of my growth as a follower of Christ and an individual. I know that this disappointment is only temporary, for in the long run, it’s for something greater than I can’t even imagine.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”