The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat*

It happens all day, everyday. Who would have thought “first one to the car” could become a competitive sport? (or a contact sport for that matter). With three boys all about the same age, competition is a way of life in this house. I’m not just talking about soccer, football, wrestling, and wiffle ball – which, by the way, get played all year round, inside and out (I gave up on “no balls in the house” as a lost cause). I’m talking from the first thump to the ground off the top bunk to finishing Math first, to building the best lego robot (which becomes competitive in battle when the robots accumulate various powers to defeat the other robots – forcefields really complicate the matter), to plastic army guys battling it out in the hallway, to brushing teeth fastest (which has more than once become a toothpaste battle) to counting punch buggies on the highway, to racing up the steps, racing down the steps, who can make their candy last the longest, and the list truly could go on and on. I mean, they have taken “step on a crack, break your mama’s back” to a whole new level. They have nearly been hit by cars in the parking lot trying to avoid cracks in the pavement.

Without unnecessarily exposing my children’s shortcomings, I will simply say that along with such competition, there is much opportunity to shepherd hearts as they deal with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat a hundred times a day. One thing I am learning in the process is that boys are different from girls (me), and that is how God intended it. I call my boys my “little men”. My mom started it when I decided to name Joshua and Caleb after the men of the Bible. She used to call them her “little men of a different spirit”, because that’s what the Bible calls Joshua and Caleb. Eventually, we shortened it and included Izzy in the bunch. Now, I say it to build my faith and theirs: they are going to be men someday. They are going to be leaders. I want them to be bold, godly leaders who take risks and fight for what is right, and protect others, and subdue the earth as is their God-given mandate. What I am seeing in the competitions is the pursuit of manhood, but corrupted by sinful little hearts. My job is to have faith for the future man in each of them, and point out the foolishness that is bound in their hearts now.

I am learning. I don’t gasp every time somebody gets tackled. I know which bumps and cuts mean a trip to the E.R. and which don’t. I know all of the signs for a concussion (pupils dilated unevenly, nausea, acting disoriented). I know which yells are anger, and which are pain. I know that it is possible to wrestle, and not be angry…but not for very long. And I know that these boys are a precious gift from God, and I see His glory when I behold the stunning difference between them and me. Viva la difference!

*originally posted February ’05

8 thoughts on “The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat*

  1. good thoughts, Laurie, as I type from my sickbed. My litte men aren’t the rough and tumble type as much as some others, so I encourage any competition, mud slingin’, wrestling and other typical displays of testerone filled bodies. I have been praying for courage for my little guys and eyes to see ways that I might stifle it in them as well as draw it to the surface.
    And, i just thought today that perhaps we’ll mimic the Powell boys (ironically, two of their best buds) with Mohawks this week. If so, i’ll be sure to post pics. 🙂

  2. Just wanted to let you know how encouraging this post was. As you know I am about to bring into this world a little man of my own any day now and if I am being honest I am terrified. My parents divorced when I was 11, and I have two sisters and a step-sister. Having only been married 4 1/2 years my husband and the way he thinks is pretty much a mystery. Of course the way he thinks is far different even from how my dad and new brother-in-law thinks as well so I am really not sure how I am going to raise a boy. What I realized in reading your latest I guess re-entry is that if I can keep the perspective that I am raising/ training this boy to be the man God wants him to be. All my answers on how to are so obviously in the same book I try to read every day. That of course also reminds me that I am not alone in raising him. I know most people would respond a big duh to what I have been enlightened to but I just wanted to say thank you it is what I needed to read today. Jenny

  3. Jenny, welcome to the comment box! Thanks for the encouragement.
    CCC gals, Jenny is one of my COG friends. She has the cutest little girl named Jeana (red curly hair). We are making a pink poodle cake for her birthday. We will post a pic next week, Lord willing.

  4. Hi Jenny!

    What an exciting and daunting adventure having a new child of the opposite of what you are used to. First off, I have a very similar family background without going into details here, but I can understand those type of issues. I have learned over the years, and have recently been renewed in my faith.. that God is my daddy. It may sound juvenile to call God daddy but that is who he is to me.. daddy God.

    I have a 14 month old girl after having 2 boys (who will be 5 and 11 years old in a matter of weeks). I was terrified at the thought of a girl.. pleased but terrified! I knew what to expect and how to deal with wee men.. but a girl!?!? long story short (I know, I know.. too late haha) I am loving every minute of having a daughter. It is an adventure. Thank God for bringing godly women into my life to help me in this journey of parenting. 🙂

    I will be praying for you Jenny and I look forward to meeting you when I finally haul my bum out to Ohio to visit!!

    oh .. sidenote… I loved this post Laurie! I had read it in the archives before but it bears repeating. I can definitely relate to boys making things competition. My goodness.. the boys compete over who gets buckled first!! oh my…

    love you!!

  5. Laurie, I had to laugh. Your sons’ antics really come to life on the screen. (Hope they haven’t actually busted THROUGH a screen, but ….) You have really hit on the essence of the making of a man. I am in the special place of seeing four men in my home at various stages of manhood: the husband who has toiled in a competitive market for 24 years and whose faithfulness and attention to excellence has provided for us as well as for himself to go higher in business. Ben, nearly 20, is about the most competitive beast I know, but with that comes a confidence that makes him walk tall (and I don’t mean just literally!). He tends to think that what he wants he can achieve with effort, and perhaps more effort than the next guy. For the most part, he’s been right. Stephen is competitive, but less so; he’s more about team sports than extreme sports, about cooperation vs competition, but then again, birth order has a lot to do with it. Joel is just a little too much about one-upping, but–as with his brothers–I see that with God’s help, we can help him see pride without killing a spirit a competitive spirit. I am not telling you anything you don’t know, but to encourage you (and myself) that these phases are normal, scary, exciting, nerve-wracking, wearying, exhilarating, eye-opening, expensive, amusing…..
    I married a man who had only brothers. HE married a woman who had only sisters. If we can make it, any of your readers can!

  6. Excellent, Zoanna. thanks for the little peek into my potential future. jason has special fondness for your two oldest boys (he doesn’t know joel as well 🙂 ). You’re definitely doing something right raising men over there, sister!

  7. Karen,
    Thank you so much for the encouragement and the Prayers. I need all I can get these days! Hope you can make it to Ohio soon. Although I would wait until warmer weather. We are under quite a bit of snow right now. From what I have gathered from Laurie and her families reaction you all are not much for the cold. 🙂 Jenny

  8. Jenny,
    Marylanders are wimps regarding the cold. We start complaining when it hits 50 degrees!! 😉

    I am hoping to get out there for a visit sometime in May (depends when my house sells etc arrggh moving is a pain in the rump!!)

    I will continue praying for you and look forward to meeting you in person!

    btw ask Laurie for my email.. I would love to have another prayer partner or email pen pal 😉

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