I didn’t get to watch it on t.v., but I heard it on the radio just after it happened. Last Sunday I was making my way back to Bella Vista from a day of worship and meetings in Berryville, and I happened to hear a sports update as I was trying to find the broadcast of Cardinals baseball. What I heard shocked me!
Jordan Spieth, the young golfer, in his early 20’s, who took the P.G.A. by storm last year by winning the Masters and another “Major” tournament and who had led the the past 7 rounds of Masters play dating back to last year, had a melt down on the back nine, Hole 12, by chunking two balls into the famous pond. He had led by 5 strokes earlier in the round. For some of you it would not be shocking. If it was my game of golf, I would not be surprised. For Jordan Spieth it was devastating. He had opportunities to get back in contention but fell short. For some, that was the end of the story. He collapsed, choked, or whatever other metaphor you may want to employ to describe his “come apart.” People began comparing him to some of the other great collapses in sports history. Some have already written him off. We can be cruel, can’t we? As a human race we can witness some incredible performances in sports, the Arts, world peace, inventions, and the like; however, if that person slips up we write them off almost immediately. For me, the story doesn’t end there. Jordan was interviewed after the tournament and with tears in his eyes, he admitted his mistakes, disappointment and hurt and said he will go after it again in the next tournament. Then he proceeded to congratulate the champion in a classy way.
We need more classy people in this world. We need more people who look for the good in others rather than those who sensationalize defeat by rubbing salt in the wound. Anyone who has risked doing something great has fallen short. It’s the way you respond that counts, and it’s the way we respond to others and others respond to us in times of defeat that can make the difference. I don’t believe we are in this world necessarily to do great things. I think we are here to be great people first. Then greatness will take care of itself.
We are not defined by our failures; we are defined by how we respond to them when they occur. Study them, learn from them, then move on and tackle the next project. This can make us stronger, better, and wiser. The Apostle Paul said it best, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Even in defeat, we can be building strength. Some would say it is only in defeat that we become strong. Whichever way it is, it is our choice.
Grace and peace!
Rex A. Dickey, Chaplain