Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Time for Mistakes

This weekend (October 23rd & 24th, 2015) was a hard couple of days for two Utah college football teams. On Friday Utah State University lost to San Diego State 48-14. Both teams were undefeated in conference play and USU was not able to match the strength of the San Diego team. The University of Utah, ranked 3rd in the nation and 6-0 going into their game with USC, was plagued with interceptions and missed plays from start to finish. They lost 42-24. The loses were difficult for both programs. One of the Utah players said "that they had forgotten what it was like to lose" (Deseret News Article). In sports losing is part of the game. How players and teams react to losing really defines the strength of the team.

I read a post on Facebook today from a dad whose daughter played in her final soccer match as a high school player (“I Never Thought It Would End This Way”). Regulation time ended with a tie, overtime ended in a tie, the penalty kicks would determine the outcome. Maddie, the daughter, took her turn at the penalty kicks with her team down 3-1. If she missed the game would be over, if she made it they would continue. Kerrick Dyer, the writer, describe it this way:

Sitting on my knees beside my wife, I simply mumbled, “Maddie needs to be to one to take this shot.”

Not because it could be the game winner………because it would be the shot that would seal the loss if she missed.

I don’t know what kind of reaction or look Kristy gave me, but I went on to say, “Maddie needs to be the one to take this shot, because I know she can handle missing the shot to end the game.  She can handle it.  That’s my daughter!”

And my voice cracked at the enormity of what I was saying in a trailing voice……..”that is OUR daughter”.

She missed.  Game over.  Season over.  High school career over for her and her senior teammates.

Maddie played her heart out.  And I was so proud of her.  But when those words came out of my mouth, “that’s our daughter” it hit me so clearly.  I was not proud of her effort or her performance.

I was proud of who she has become.

She met her mother and me after the game with head held high.  That’s our daughter.

My ten-year-old grandson in his last football game of the season was playing defense and the player with the ball was able to get past him and score a touch down. My grandson was so upset that he failed to tackle the player he came off the field crying. I stopped him and said it was ok that he made that mistake and tried to encourage him by telling him that all the other defenders missed him as well. When the game was over and we were in the car on the ride home I tried to help my grandson understand that making mistakes and losing games is ok, especially at his age. I tried to teach him that life is all about making mistakes and learning from them and improving our skills so hopefully next time he would make the tackle and even save the touch down. I’m not sure he bought into my philosophical life lesson. There is a difference in the maturity of a ten-year-old playing his first season and a high school senior that has learned the hard way that mistakes and missed shots happen in sports. We need to learn from the losses and pick our selves up and play harder next time.

Kerrick in his blog gave this advice “Do your best. Have fun. Train and play to win. In the end it’s just a game.” That is great advice for sports, but what about life? Mistakes in life sometimes have little effect on those around us, but some mistakes have life changing consequences. We can lose our job, break the law, cause injury, and many other problems. This life is a time to grow and learn from our successes and our mistakes. The Lord described the purpose of our mortality, he said:

And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. (Abraham 3:25-26)

The prophet Alma also tells us that this life is a time to repent and prepare to meet God. He said:

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. (Alma 34:32-33)

As I have said before, this life is all about making choices (see “The Chosen One” from September 13, 2015). Many times we make the wrong choices. In is in these times that we must take Alma’s advice and repent and learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. Then through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be forgiven. When teams like USU and UofU have bad games, the fans and administration seldom forgive quickly. In life when we make mistakes and repent and are forgiven the Lord remembers our sins no more (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42). It is as if there were no interceptions, missed kicks or penalty flags.

The Lord speaking to an ancient American Prophet said:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

Until that time when we recognize our weaknesses and are perfected through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we need to realize that it is ok to make mistakes and as long as we make the necessary changes to avoid the same mistake. We need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes and not give in to the philosophies of the world that mistakes are not good, that they show weakness, that if we want to succeed we will not make mistakes.

Karrick concluded his message by saying: And while your players are dreaming of making that dramatic game-winning shot, you better spend some time preparing their toughness and character……for missing it.” After all this life is a time for mistakes.

Your comments and questions are welcome.