Moving on from Disappointment

Nothing can compare to the electricity, fully saturated with the smell of sweat, that permeates the air as men who tower over most of us battle head-to-head and hand to hand in search for nothing but net.

As the longest-acting chaplain for any NBA team, having served the 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks now for over three decades, I’ve become acutely familiar with the feel, smell, and taste of this atmosphere as if it were an extension of my own. It is both rousing and disarming at the same time. I love it. In fact when I am there, I grab it and hate to let it go.

When two teams make it to the NBA Finals, five men on the court from each side unapologetically seek to prove which team is the best. They are men on a quest—men with one goal, and that goal is nothing short of declaring to the entire world their greatness.

Yet, at the end of the day, one locker room erupts, while the other locker room echoes with the eeriness of an exhausted and depleted quiet. One city cheers, while another city mourns, licking its wounds. One banner will be raised while the hopes for that same banner will taunt the thoughts of those who fought so hard to claim it, yet fell short.

In sports, as is often the case in life, when one person celebrates—another person cries. One person’s victory means another person’s defeat. One person’s promotion is another person’s stagnation. One person’s hope fulfilled is another person’s hope deferred.

So what do we do with disappointment? What do we do with defeat? The same thing every successful person has ever done: We wipe off our sweat, toss our worn and tattered jerseys in the wash, and we move on.

The difference between a person of victory and a person who gets stuck in the rut of defeat can be found in how that person views life’s experiences. A victorious person will view his or her life experiences—even the defeats and failures—through the lens of purpose. They will recognize the connecting thread taking them to the destiny God has for them (Jeremiah 29:11) as they fulfill their role as a biblical man or woman under God.

How you manage, or mismanage, the experiences in your past will have everything to do with your future. Learn from your past; don’t live in it. Michael Jordan has a great take on this perspective: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

The 2014 NBA Championship team has been decided. But 2015 is a story still yet to be written.

You may have had some setbacks in your life, but if you will view all of life from God’s perspective then you are headed to a great tomorrow. He has a plan for you—and it’s a good plan, filled with both a future and with hope.