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I like to win. This is blatantly obvious to anyone who has ever seen me coach or even through my announcing. We’ve experienced a lot of winning at NRHEG over the years, and it’s a great feeling.

I like to win. I’m that parent who never just let his kids win a game. They had to earn the victory. Jayna wanted to learn how to play chess a few years ago. I told her she needed to beat me in checkers before that would happen, but I wasn’t going to let her win. She’s now a pretty good chess player!

I like to win. But I also know how to lose. Nobody wins all the time, though my dad probably remembers his twelve straight losses to me in Chutes and Ladders when I was young, when it seemed like a game based completely on chance would never allow him to get to the top first. One of the great lessons of competition is learning how to handle adversity and loss.

The best teams build off a loss and learn from it. It’s no secret that our girls’ basketball team fumed a bit after their loss to Chaska early in the 2012 campaign. It was a close loss, but one that stuck with them when they were in a close game for the state championship at the end of the season.

The best players deal with loss well too. After Brett Favre lost his father, he gained a focus unseen before and raised his game to a new level. Competition and sports often are affected by life in general, and learning to win and lose in life is the most important lesson of all.

I tend to raise a few hackles any time I bring religion into the mix of my column.  As someone recently told me at a seminar, “If you’re offended, please choose not to be.” Here we go.

As much as I like winning and being in control, God doesn’t always allow that. Our purpose in life is to figure out how to win with God, but that sometimes involves losing. Sound like a conundrum? That’s what is difficult at times to deal with as a Christian.

A powerful and difficult moment in my life occurred when my grandma was very sick and about a month away from dying. She was in the hospital, and nobody was sure if she would last. One of my uncles was really struggling with this. He talked about what a good person my grandma was; she always tried to do what was right and rarely had a negative thing to say about anyone. Why was she made to suffer? He questioned why God would do that to her.

I thought about that a lot leading up to Grandma’s eventual demise. I still think about it a lot. It’s logical to understand that we lose people in our lives that we care about, but it’s difficult to see the suffering. We can understand losing, but it feels like the other team is running up the score.

But as Easter approaches, if you are a believer, you can think about the death of Jesus. He did not die an easy death and suffered as much or more than we will. Being scourged, having to carry a cross, facing ridicule and denial, and finally being crucified are beyond imagination for the physical and mental pain. In the end, though, Jesus won. He won the most important game of all – victory over death.

I’ll always struggle with losing in life. My faith wavers at times, often when the logical part of my brain kicks in. I find myself asking questions about how a person could die and rise from the dead. There has to be some explanation which explains that, perhaps a coma-like state or some other scientific rationale. When I see good people suffer, as I too often do, it shakes that faith. Why would God rub it in like that?

Finding my faith to believe is a game plan that is always a work in progress. Coaches have to make halftime adjustments all the time; I have to do that in my life too. Constant adjusting will help me continue to follow that faith and hopefully find victory at the end of the game.

I hope everyone has a good Easter and can spend some time thinking about this occasion. We often hear at Christmas to remember “The Reason for the Season,” but Easter is much the same way. It’s not all about bunnies and chocolate and ham, but about the game we’re all in the midst of trying to win.

Word of the Week: This week’s word is manducate, which means to chew or eat, as in, “The hungry family sat down after church and proceeded to manducate the entire ham before taking a nap.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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