I’m not an NBA fan except during the Finals. During the Finals, we see the same athleticism and offense, but we finally see some defense and passion. It’s a spectacle. I watched with my boys on Tuesday as the Spurs lost Game 6 to the Miami Heat. What a game!
Today, I read an article about the Spurs and their preparation for Game 7. But, the part that captured my attention was how they managed to deal with such a defeat on Tuesday night. Here’s an excerpt…
The Spurs chose to eat as a team after Game 6. As the early morning hours kicked on, they gathered and shared old battle wounds from games lost in the past – be it together (was this worse than Derek Fisher’s shot with 0.4 seconds remaining?) or across their long and global careers (“the European championship,” Tony Parker lamented of his French national team, “we were up seven and lost in 35 seconds”).
Eventually, players said there was laughter and ease and a shared reminder that this is what the game sometimes offers. This, too, is simply what must be overcome. They’d all lost before.
“It helped,” Duncan said. “The other option is a bunch of us go back to our rooms and sit there by ourselves and beat yourself up. So it’s always good to be around teammates and kind of get some of that stuff out in the open.”
As I read this, I thought about a few things that we could learn from this.
They’d all lost before. No one likes this. I don’t know many people who love the reality that they have lost before. However, a veteran team understands this. Everyone has lost before. Sometimes in the church we can forget that we have all lost. Though the Bible is really clear about this, sometimes we can forget it. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. I mean, we don’t want to…but we do. And, when we do, we have an advocate with the Father who never did.
Sharing pain helps. No one on any team likes to lose, but when you do lose, knowing you have people around you to share that burden is always good. The Spurs found that out on Tuesday night. When I’m hurting, when I fall, when I need to confess my sin, it helps to have others around me rather than going back to my room of self-protection and isolation to beat myself up. We were made for community not isolation. Sharing pain in community and praying for one another is healing. The Church needs to rediscover this over and over again.
Telling Stories is crucial. This has been clear to humanity since oral cultures started passing down stories. Part of what is healing about sharing pain is the telling of other stories we have survived. This sharing of stories in community leads from mourning to joy, acceptance and resolve toward the goal. We haven’t shared past experiences. It’s really interesting to me how we “do life” with strangers. We don’t know stories. Maybe we haven’t laughed about failures we survived because we are too busy hiding them so that we can continue the facade. Whatever the reason, The Church needs to learn to tell stories of God’s grace in our failure. It’s crucial.
I offer no predictions about tonight’s game. I have a preference. But, what I do know is that we can learn about dealing with adversity in community by watching the way the Spurs faced it on Tuesday night. And we better learn, because it’s coming…