Two years ago, Elijah and I had the chance to play together a Soccer Foosball Table Game (It is a tabletop soccer game with characters and handles). We were on the same team together with another kid. We were up against another team composed also of three other kids, the eldest being around 12-13 years old… Well sometimes I just have to
forget what my age is and play with grade school kids in order to get Elijah involved hehehehe. Considering that I had to be “sensitive” with the age and maturity of our competitors, I was just having fun with the game and would not put an ala-Mamba like mentality in playing the game. If you are an NBA fan and loves Kobe Bryant, you would know what I mean.
Little did I know that it was Elijah who was playing with his utmost best and sincere intensity. While it did not bother me falling behind in the scores, Elijah was already troubled losing. While our team was already trailing, 8-1 in a race to 10 game, I noticed that tears were flowing from Elijah’s eyes. Elijah was silently crying all along!
“Why, Elijah?”, I asked.
“Nothing” he responded.
“Was it because we are losing?” I further inquired
The silent cry of a sheep became the roar of a lion. Elijah just bursted into tears. I had to call a time out in order to comfort him.
After few minutes of comforting my eldest, we went back into the game. I know I had to pick up my game a notch higher, until the scores were tied at 9-all. Forget about age disparity at that moment hahahaha! So yeah, we stormed through the game and scored 8 straight points before they got one more to tie the score! Each time we scored, I see to it that we celebrate like champions to make Elijah realize the value of doing one’s best.
Elijah and Ezekiel 2 Years ago
As the game progressed, there was one wrong move on our end and we lost, 10-9. Personally, I felt accomplished doing what seemed to be a “Barangay Ginebra”-like rally in a basketball game (forgive me for making too much basketball reference), even when we fell short. I sensed that Elijah felt otherwise. He took our losing severely. I knew I had to seize that “moment” to teach my son certain principles in life:
Tatay: Are you sad because we lost?
Elijah: (nodding his head)
Tatay: Elijah let me tell you something. Tatay also wants to win. But you cannot always win. This is one of those times. What is important is that we did our best. Did you do your best?
Elijah: Yes, I did my best.
Tatay: So you don’t need to feel bad! As long as you did your best and you played fair, even when you lost, then that’s ok.
Elijah: (Still crying)
Tatay: Winning is not everything, Anak. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. After the fact, whether you win or you lose, is what you should think of.
Tatay: See, some winners become too proud, and it turned out that their victory did not do them good. Some losers train hard afterwards and become better players in the process. You want to hear the example of Jesus?
Elijah: (still sobbing) Yes, what about Jesus?
Tatay: When Jesus died on the cross, the people at that time thought he lost. His disciples thought they lost. His accusers thought that Jesus and His followers lost. They did not realize, He will live again! The lost that everyone thought turned out to be a win for the people that Jesus will save. What they become after the “lost” became the greatest news that we know at this time. We are saved by Jesus!
Ezekiel really knows how to mess things up even before he started walking hehehe.
As we are walking back to the place where we will stay for the night, I felt that my son was not totally comforted by what I was teaching him. He was four years old at that time and all that he wanted to do was to compete and to win. It was a consistent work on his attitude about winning and losing in the following months. I dearly hoped that his learnings about faith and life will make him accept the truth that winning is not everything.
Fast forward to this year, we again had a chance to play the same game. I committed to play with some “intensity” and use that moment to gauge if there was any change in his attitude towards winning. It was Tatay vs Elijah! It will be a battle. Yeah right, it will be war! Guess who won? Elijah did! And no, I did not toy around the game. I really played it. Yet, he won! Actually, I took time checking his reaction everytime I scored a goal. Surprisingly, he would just laugh it off and would go back to the game.
Tatay: See, when you do your best and try harder you can win, right?
Elijah: Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!
Tatay: But let’s say you lost the game, will you feel bad?
Tatay: Why not?
Elijah: Because I love Tatay!
Tatay: Ok, ok. But let’s say I was another kid that you played with and you lost, will you feel bad?
Tatay: Why not?
Elijah: Because he is a kid!
Tatay: Aside from that
Elijah: I don’t know. I can’t think of a reason. Hay naku! (with smiles on his face)
Elijah do not need to come up with an extensive explanation of why he must not feel bad. I do not need to hear one either. It is enough that his perspective had changed such that when I further asked him if winning is everything , he responded with a resounding “no, as long as you pray and do your best”.
As I reflected on what happened, I realized that I was like Elijah version 1 most of the time: I feel bad when I “lose”, meaning when things don’t go the way that I intended
The two boy’s back at the same place after two years.
it to be. I further realize that I have to be cautious of the type of attitude that winning or losing does to me. Do I become proud or humble in victories? Am I encouraged to improve or immediately lose the will to keep on trying after temporary setbacks? For whose glory am I trying to get the favorable judgment of the world, mine or God? What are the victories in this lifetime that I must really prioritize?
The world may measure us according to our achievements in this life. However, not all kinds of achievement will matter in eternity. When we acknowledge that not all types of victory that this world celebrates will have an impact on the afterlife, I believe that we can agree on the premise that winning is not everything…Not the only thing even.