Don’t Be Defeated by Disappointment

When my Carolina Panthers won the NFC Championship, I immediately tried to get a ticket home to Charlotte. I wanted to be around my family and friends to have the same excitement and exuberance I had watching the team 13 years ago.

blog backgroundIn February 2003, I lived in Charlotte, NC after migrating from South Carolina to attend college.  I remember the excitement that filled the air and the streets on the first Sunday evening of the month. Our Carolina Panthers had made it to the Super Bowl! For the last two weeks earlier, dinner table discussions and water cooler conversations were centered around what we would do if we won it all. That Sunday, my best friend and I had the radio on, as we traveled to a Super Bowl party. We did not want to miss a moment. Yes, the air was crisp and different. An entire city was united in hope behind a team… that ultimately fell in defeat to a horrific, out-of-bounds punt. (Excuse me, as I wipe a tear.) What I remember most about that night was the ride home. The air, now, suffocated you in disappointment. The streets were filled with bumper to bumper traffic and a deafening silence as fans went home to prepare for just another typical Monday. ~excerpt from “A City United”

Well, the Queen City felt that silence once again, this past Sunday. After the game, I received a slew of texts from California friends sending condolences. My reply to each text was the same, “Disappointed, but not devastated.”

I love sports, particularly football, because it proves that sometimes you can work your butt off and still lose. The beauty of athletics is the triumph over defeat. It is easy to use a loss as a soft pillow for self-pity. But, as believers in the power of Christ, we cannot use that excuse. He specifically told us,

“In this world, you will have trouble. But, take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We have been built to be overcomers. When facing loss, it is ok to hurt. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to be disappointed. However, we cannot stay there.

“But we have this treasure…that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” II Corinthians 4:7-9

As much as I love my Panthers, they were not the best football example of getting up from defeat. They lost to a team who had just experienced the same feeling only 2 years earlier. The Denver Broncos licked their wounds, regrouped and came back to win it all. However, my favorite football example is the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. If you haven’t read it, check out the story in my post, “After a Loss.

How are you handling disappointment?

Stripped Screws & Broken Hearts

This past summer took a toll on my relationship with God. I begged God for something that seemed fairly simple. I wanted to see my family, specifically, my niece and my new God-daughter. This meant a trip that I desperately needed for my sanity, my emotional stability and my faith. I needed a moment away from the financial struggles and loneliness I was feeling. More importantly, I needed God to give me a break from the turmoil I’ve been going through for the last 5 years. I didn’t get that break and it broke me.

I was not broken because I couldn’t go. I was broken because, once again, I got my hopes up on the power of prayer…and once again, I was sorely disappointed. After a few days, closed off from surroundings and banging my fist at God, I forced myself to get over it. However, I would soon learn that you cannot forcefully mend a broken heart.

A week ago, I attempted to buy a ticket home to the Carolinas, based on an airline representative’s statement in July. As I made the call, I felt looming disappointment ahead but was still hopeful that God would allow me to go home for Christmas. My hope was crushed as the agent told me the inaccurate reading of reward miles. The disappointment from this summer came swarming back, but now it was bitterness.

The most common mistake that causes a stripped screw is working too fast. Once stripped, pliers are the best way to fix the problem. “This process can be very tedious and you can break other parts if you are not careful.” The truth about any relationship, including one with God, is that there are times when your heart will get broken. In those times, you must allow God to take his time to mend your heart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NIV

Otherwise, you end up with more broken pieces.

After a loss…

God has never made a mistake.

I am a die-hard football fan. I love the game for many reasons, but mostly for its many parallels to life. That speech was made by my 2nd favorite player of all time, after the 2012 AFC Championship loss that sealed the Baltimore Ravens’ absence in the Super Bowl. That same year I experienced a series of consecutive losses; financially, emotionally and spiritually. As a warrior, I pride myself on the fight. But, sometimes you lose. You do everything you could possibly do…and still lose. So what do you do, after the loss?

“Don’t ever drop your head when you come to a loss.”

You hold your head up and keep moving. This is especially true when you know God has promised victory. The very next year, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, against many odds. It’s taking a little longer than a year for me to see some of God’s promises manifest for me. But I’m still moving. I’m still fighting…and so should you.

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised. -Hebrews 10:36

Are You Worth the Risk?

I often find myself caught up in other people’s vision. I listen to an idea and become excited about its possibilities. I am a doer, so I offer my own ideas on how to make their ideas come to life. Then, I allow myself to become a little worker bee, getting things done to make others’ ideas work. While this may seem like such a good deed, I have discovered the true reason behind my actions are not so selfless. In fact, it is a bit self-destructive.

God has given each of us talents and abilities to use for his glory. They are part of his purpose for us. Our individual skill sets are designed to help others but also to help ourselves. In a few cases, those skill sets are meant to make His name great, by making our name great. Sometimes, however, the risks of greatness frightens us off the path to our destiny. We find ourselves on someone else’s path to a destination that is not our own. Initially, these helpful acts are comforting. You say things like “I’m a part of  something great,” or “I’m just happy to be along for the ride.” But if God has called you to something else, something greater, then the ride you’re on, will leave you empty and unfulfilled. This can also lead to a bitterness and resentment towards the person you helped, when the real culprit is yourself.

My fear of the unknown has helped many people accomplish wonderful things. While there is satisfaction in helping others, I am disappointed in how I have used those tasks to procrastinate in my own success. I have delayed God’s plan for my life with fear disguised as a helpful spirit. I have taken risks on others, but it is now time to take a risk on myself. I’m worth it. If God believes in me…shouldn’t I?

The Fear of Prayer

What!!??? How can you be afraid of prayer? Is that possible? Yes, it is. I know, because I’ve been afraid of it for a very long time.

When I was 17 years old, I asked God to make things better. The summer before my senior year, I was painfully shoved into adulthood by a car accident. Before I knew it, I was a caregiver for a brain-damaged mother who barely remembered who I was and a bitter grandfather who was struggling with cancer and wounded pride. Days were filled with nurses, needles, housekeeping and a teenager trying to manage it all. Needless to say I was overwhelmed. So I went to God.

I begged him to fix my situation. I pleaded with him to make things normal again. But literally, minutes after I got up off my knees, another crisis blew up in the house. This one nearly cost me my life at the hands of my own mother. Had God heard me? Was he ignoring me? Did he care about all those tears I had shed only minutes before? Now, I was broken. That moment planted the seed of doubt in the power of prayer.

It was enough to make me believe a lie that says when you pray, things only get worse.

A good lie is always founded in some truth. There’s only one word that turned what I believed into a lie. The word is only. The truth is, sometimes when you pray, things do get worse. What noone ever taught me was when things get worse, it is a strategy. Satan hears our prayers too. His strategy is to make us believe that talking to God does not work. And, on some level, I bought it. From that point on, I was deeply afraid to ask God for anything significant. I was afraid of how bad, things could get. The truth is, no matter how bad things get, God will always get good out of it. The challenge is to believe past the fear…to believe the truth.

This video captures this principle through a powerful song that has encouraged me and scriptures throughout, that I encourage you to write down and meditate on.

It’s My Birthday!

On our personal new year, as I like to call it, most of us get calls, texts, posts, etc. I tend to be a bit cynical about Facebook birthday greetings, though  I appreciate them nonetheless. The fact that a high school classmate who I haven’t spoken to in 20 years, could take 20 seconds to type ‘Happy Birthday’ is admittedly more than I have done for a few people. In the words of The Lionking’s Pumba, “Oh, the shame!!”

I always wonder from whom the first greeting will come. This year it came from a friend I speak with on occasion. I don’t know if he even remembered that it was my birthday. The text simply read, “Just thought about you!” I’m so glad he did.

I did not wake up this morning thinking about what a great birthday I was going to have. I woke up thinking about what a trying year it has been. Discouraging and battle filled, I have often questioned my decisions and my dreams. I questioned God. Then I saw my friend’s text attached to the video below and thought… Maybe this is God’s answer.

I’d like to think of it as his birthday gift to me.