Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I suppose we all grow up with family sayings, those bits of wisdom passed down from parent to child to grandchild.

I remember Mom challenging me to pause before speaking, to consider what I was about to say in light of these questions:  Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? (Excellent advice, although I haven't always followed it.)

"You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar," my Dad once told me.

"Advice is always better received when it has been solicited."

"Can't never could."

I don't remember when this saying was impressed upon me, or who said it:  "If you can't afford to lose, you can't afford to play the game." It was probably introduced when I was a child, caught exhibiting bad sportsmanship upon losing a game with one of my siblings. The bottom line was, if I couldn't handle losing with composure and a measure of grace, if losing meant my world was going to fall to pieces, then I didn't need to play.

True for a board game with siblings. True also for financial and emotional investments. If I can't deal with equanimity with the possibility of things NOT going the way I would like, then I probably lack sufficient resources (financially, emotionally, etc.) to take the risks involved and I need to turn around and walk away from the deal.

If I can't handle losing, if losing shatters my peace and leaves my world in ruins,...well, the problem isn't that I lost, but that committed resources (my sense of self-worth, my understanding of personal success, my foundation for security or peace, etc.) that I didn't really have. I'm like a bankrupt gambler being told at gun-point to pay up at the end of an abysmal run of poker.

What are some big losses that I have incurred in the game of life...

I have lost time.
I have lost my privacy.
I have lost a degree of freedom.
I have lost my health a few times.
I have lost my trust of others.
I have lost my innocence.
I have lost loved ones - to physical distance, to sin, and even to death.

Some of these losses threatened to undo me. I felt like the world truly was crashing down around me. Thankfully, when my heart or my health or my hope were imploding, when I was most completely bankrupt, God always stepped in to cover my losses, to see me through the crisis, to give me hope for a better day, to remind me of the promise of Glory.

I lost a dear friend a few months ago. Most days, I don't feel her absence too terribly...but then there are days when the hole is huge and dark and her absence pulls on my heart so strongly that I feel like I can't breathe.

Thankfully, God redeems my losses, every single one of them, even this one. He turns it into a great big beautiful longing to be with him and to be reunited with those who stand already in his company.

Without this great and good God, I truly could not afford to play. My heart has been broken so many times - how can I possibly afford to risk having it broken again? Without this great and good God, life would simply be too hard, too costly. I would not be able to afford losing again. Losing would hurt too badly.

With this great and good God, truly losing, in the ultimate sense, isn't even a possibility.

1 comment:

Graham Dragon said...

What a refreshing way of looking at things!

I have often heard and applied the expression "if you can't afford to lose, you can't afford to play", but have always thought of it in monetary terms and I have used it to judge the right investment strategy in line with my attitude to risk and capacity for loss. I have never thought of it in broader terms in the way you have outlined here Camille. As with so many apparent truisms, it seems so obvious when you see or hear it said, yet it was not at all obvious until you did!

Of course, there are lots of occasions where we have no choice but to play the game. It is in those situations that 1 Corinthians 10:13 comes into its own: "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

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