The announcer didn’t call my name.
He didn’t hand me a certificate.
He didn’t congratulate me.
He just called off other people’s names, their writings, and their awards.
And I just sat quietly in my chair and wondered why I had lost…again…
Feeling Defeated and Discouraged
I know what people would say to me if I told them how I felt. They would say, “Losing doesn’t make you a failure. It just means you can’t always win.”
While they’d be correct, their encouragement probably wouldn’t make me feel any better. Their words wouldn’t remove the sting of rejection, the ache of failure, or the pain of defeat. I am a loser in the literal sense because I lost. And it hurt.
It hurt to congratulate those who were recognized. It hurt to smile when I didn’t hear my name called. It hurt to hug the contestant whose story won first prize. It hurt to sit beside my friend, who was holding two impressive certificates.
You and I both know what it feels like to lose, and it doesn’t feel good.
Maybe you don’t even know what it feels like to win.
I’ve certainly had my share of defeats. Writing is one of many areas in my life where I’ve failed. It has been rejected countless times, in countless ways.
I just can’t help but wonder: Why did I have to lose this time? Why did he have to win? What was her secret to getting first place? What could he have possibly written that was better than what I wrote?
Why Losing is Beautiful
I don’t know why I had to lose that time, why he had to win, what her secret was, or what he wrote.
But I do believe that our losses are not in vain. They are not a waste of talent or a punishment. Rather, our losses are a blessing because we can use them to encourage other losers. To be honest, we’re all losers because losers are simply people who lose. It’s difficult to truly encourage a loser if you’ve never lost.
Yes, it feels horrible to lose because losing breaks our hearts, crushes our confidence, and weakens our assurance. It can cause depression, anxiety, and even despair. Even though losses can be temporary and mean little in the long-run, they are still disappointing to experience.
But there is something beautiful about losing that we could never experience if we always won. The beauty of losing is that we know how others feel when they lose. We can empathize, reassure, and strengthen those who have lost because we know exactly how they feel.
Losing means we can congratulate the one who wasn’t recognized. It means we can smile at the one whose name wasn’t called. It means we can hug the one whose story didn’t win first prize. It means we can sit by the one who isn’t holding any certificates.
How We Can Love Other Losers
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8 ESV)
In the midst of defeat, we can (and should) sympathize, love, and have a tender heart and humble mind. There are so many ways we can have those godly characteristics, but here are just a few of them:
- As Paul told the Romans, we must “…weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 ESV) We must be willing to experience the pain of those who lose—no matter how excruciating it may be. Let them express their emotions. They may not start bawling in your arms, but they will likely show some negative emotion in which you can comfort them. Listening carefully to their thoughts and feelings will make them feel loved as a brother or sister.
- We should avoid giving lectures or even pep talks. The worst thing we can do is brag about our personal accomplishments or make “helpful” suggestions for how those who lose can do better next time. Rather, the best thing we can do is share honestly about the times we’ve been defeated. Openness and authenticity demonstrate humility and help those who have lost feel like they are not alone in their disappointment.
- We must point them forward. It’s difficult to think about future growth and success after a discouraging defeat, but this reminder is crucial. We must gently, but firmly, nudge those who’ve lost to keep trying, keep hoping, and keep moving forward because it reminds them that present pain can fade with time and with trust in the Lord’s sovereignty.
Losing is temporary and has no eternal value, but the choices we make when we lose—and when others lose—have lasting value and worth in God’s sight. In our everyday lives, we must seek opportunities to share in the pain of other losers, honestly discuss times when we have lost, and encourage those who have lost to look past their current defeats.