The Winnings of Losing

“I can do it myself!” 

According to my dad, this was my first complete sentence.  I think most of us come into the world wanting this to be true.   Even now, decades later, I still fight the tendency to order my life in and around my very first statement. 

To be inadequate or needy is like defeat, and defeat stinks.  Nevertheless, the state of defeat has an essential purpose.  Bitter as it is, and as much as I’ve tried to avoid it, resignation of self-sufficiency has proven over and over to be the catalyst for spiritual fertility.  For me, Truth’s incubator has been personal defeat—the more seemingly permanent and complete, the better.

To keep me mindful of the understandings which have been quite costly to be grafted into, I’m writing them down (again).  It’s not that they fill me completely (though that is the hope), or that I’ve mastered them in any way (because I am not the conqueror); but being mindful of my incomplete nature and remembering surrenders’ fruits helps bring me back to the gateway of the eternal Reality which I desire to be ordered in and around now.  The following is some of what took root in me after accepting multilateral defeat:

  • I concluded that God was God and I was not. 
  • I was compelled to sincerely seek out the eternal good, and stop focusing on the “getting” of short-term goods.
  • Defeat made me willing to submit more holistically; and it fostered acquiescence—the place where God becomes able.
  • Defeat offered me the key to everything: humility.
  • It taught me how to hope and wait without an agenda.
  • It quelled the temptations to judge.
  • It united me with the crowd that Jesus sought after.
  • It created a more appropriate level of desperation for salvation—salvation from the flesh, not from the mere failure of it (our patient God usually waits for us to want who He is, and I began to see my despair as a gracious nudging toward knowing what to want).
  • I caught a glimpse of my multi-layered incompleteness once I saw through the façade of my physical reality.  For example, I cannot discern the will of God, I cannot do the will of God, I cannot offer the benefits of the will of God, I cannot be saved unto God… without God.

This is the beginning.  It’s a good start, though I remain subject to derailment at every turn.  These are the things that I learned once; now, for the diligent practicing of it all. 

We weren’t intended to “do it ourselves”.  If we are truly blessed, then this truth is a relief to us, not a threat.  In times of unknowing, or hopelessness, or loss, or endless waiting: be encouraged—we’re moving closer to the Truth.  Defeat enables us to be grafted further into the Truth, and the Truth gives us much more than whatever we’ve lost along the way.

One thought on “The Winnings of Losing

  1. Defeat is the other word for suffering. Rohr speaks of necessary suffering. And suffering and prayer are the only avenues to real transformation. Good work!

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