First Or Last, What Difference Does It Make?

At times, it can be hard to accept the instances in which the “good guy” finishes last. When I have played by the golden rules and held myself to moral and ethical standards, only to be stomped on, passed over, or finishing last to one who has not. In moments like that, it can be very tempting to let go of the higher road, to seek revenge and/or to set out to play, from now on, by the very rules that go against my grain.

While I could shift to a lower gear, possibly squash anyone along the path and “win” the next situation, I have to stop and ask myself, at what cost would I be doing so? When I ask myself, “Is it really worth it to me to become something other than my true self in order to ‘win?’ ” without fail, I find that it is not. The end does not justify the means; at least not for me.

Sometimes I wonder, what does winning even really mean? To some, it seems to mean having or achieving more than others do and being the king or queen of the jungle, even if it requires words and actions that are ruthless and that cut down others. To some, it seems to mean striving to live life well, to be compassionate and loving, to be honest and to have integrity with oneself and others.

“We don’t have to be superstars or win championships….
All we have to do is learn to rise to every occasion, give our best effort,
and make those around us better as we do it.” — John Wooden

Although there is an “i” (actually two of them) in the word winning, when “I” is at the center of the way in which one operates, chances are that those around that person are not being made better. Instead, they are being driven away or encouraged in ways that are self-serving and that pave the way toward the decay of genuine character.

So what am I to do when the unjust occurs? If it is within me, and the words and actions arise into consciousness, stand up and speak up for what is just and honorable with love and care, as much as is possible. Then, perhaps, step away. To some, walking away or surrendering may seem like defeat, but it is not. Sometimes, it is the honorable thing to do.

We are called to love even those whom may not be so loving and kind to us. However, we are not called to bend to their will, to be under their thumb, or to dwell with them, possibly becoming like them. Hard as it may be, sometimes severing the ties and walking away, trusting that God will provide to those who are faithful to God, is the only way. While there may be temptation to see surrender as weakness, it depends on to whom the surrender is. When one surrenders, and clings, to God in such situations, there is freedom, peace, strength and courage.

“Basketball is not the ultimate. It is of small importance in comparison
to the total life we live. There is only one kind of life that truly wins,
and that is the one that places faith in the hands of the Savior. Until that
is done, we are on an aimless course that runs in circles and goes
nowhere.”   – John Wooden

“Good guys” do not always finish last. Keep the faith!

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