All I do is Win

November 1, 2017 was the worst day of my life.

Sure I’ve had plenty of bad, not so good, some would say horrible days in my life — but none of them beat that one.

That morning when I woke up, I was in such a hopeful and joyful mood because of what I knew was to come. Who would’ve thought it would end up the complete opposite of what I had anticipated?

Not only is this day my father’s birthday, but it is also one of my favorite feast days: All Saints Day. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Your dad’s birthday and All Saint’s Day was the worst day of your life? Man, you must have a bad relationship with your father and the saints!” Actually, I have a great relationship with my father and specific saints. In fact, my family and I were celebrating at a Texas Roadhouse when it happened.

The Los Angeles Dodgers lost the world series to the Houston Astros.

My heart broke. I didn’t know what to do. It was genuinely one of the most frustrating times of my life. I was devastated!

The last time the Dodgers had been in the World Series was in 1988 — I wasn’t born yet, so the fact that I finally got the opportunity to watch them play for the championship for the first time in my life was such a rush… Until they lost the series… and lost it bad. But even though the game went completely south, it was still my father’s birthday; I could not let that get in the way of celebrating with him.

L’s Stand for Lessons

That day taught me a life lesson: Be grateful for the now. A lot of times we tend to focus on situations that we are not a part of or tend to worry about the next day and what it might offer — or what we know it will offer — but Christ doesn’t call us to any of that. He calls us to live in the present and to be present joyfully with one another. Although my heart hurt a little bit from the loss, my spirits were high because God had not only granted not only my father with another year of life, but He also gave me one more year with him in my life. This is what our faith calls us to: gratitude, no matter whether we are winning or losing.

In life, we will come across many “losses,” and we have to know what to do and how to react to certain situations. When life hands us “wins” it’s pretty easy to praise God and fall on our knees quickly to give thanks. That’s great and all, because we should give God praise for the blessings in our life, but we should also give God praise for the times that life hands us “L’s.”

The Game Plan

To turn L’s into W’s, you have to make a habit out of prayer. A good prayer life leads to a good understanding of gratefulness. The world around you starts to change and look different because your heart starts to change, for the better. It’s almost as if scales begin to fall off of our eyes and we can begin to see through the eyes of God.

You also have to ask God good questions in your prayer. In times of trouble, you might be tempted to look up to the sky and begin to ask God, “Why?” I think this is the wrong question to ask. If you find yourself frequently asking God this question, I invite you to ask a different one instead: “What do you want me to learn from this?” This shift humbles us by forcing us to recognize our trials as opportunities for growth.

I’ve always asked God for patience thinking one day I would wake up and BOOM! I would be the most patient person in the world. But doesn’t work that way (fortunately). When I became a youth minister, I always had to drive past a train crossing around the corner from the parish. Those trains threw me off schedule plenty of times. That crossing became my arch-nemesis, as if it knew when I was on the road and would purposely wait for me. It sometimes took up to 20 minutes!

One day, I was late for a staff meeting due to the train holding me hostage, and I was angry. Bitter, bothered, bored, mad, frustrated — any sane person in my situation would have felt any or all of these things. We can certainly justify those feelings, but that only hinders us from growing from these kinds of trials.

I took my own advice, stepped back to ask God why, and he answered: “You have been asking me for patience, here’s your opportunity to be.” I was floored. Once He told me that, my heart slowed down and I began to understand what it meant to live in the present moment — in the now. Everything turned to gratitude because I knew then that God had been listening to me.

The Victory has Been Won

God works in the now. As you read this, He’s working in you. Can you sense it? Do you feel it? Whether you’re in a season of loss or a season of victory, He is by your side at all times.

Christ tells us, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26). The answer is YES. You are way more valuable than those birds. You need to not simply know that, but to also believe it deeply, within in your heart.

Jesus turns our losses into lessons that make us holier — which is the sweetest win. All we have to do is let Him do it. Because even in the worst of times, God still wins. And He is writing your victory, too. When we turn to Him in prayer and gratitude, He will show us just how sweet those L’s can be.