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Profit, Loss, or Forfeit?


It’s the rhythm of our lives. It swings and sways through our nights and days with such regularity we are often unaware. Gain and loss, loss and gain. Marriages and births, divorces and deaths. An hour here waiting and a half-hour there ahead of schedule. Weight gained and hair lost. A gamble paying off and a wager squandered. An investment yielding a healthy return and the uncontrollable plummeting of the stock market. And mixed in with all this profit and loss, occasionally there is simply giving up. Forfeiting what might or might not be because the unknown or known risks are too uncomfortable for us to bear. Really now, who can calculate the price of our lives?

In the world of sports, a team has to forfeit if there are not enough players to engage in the contest. The team, we say, comes up short. But a forfeit is counted as a loss. A loss with an added layer of something akin to humiliation or shame. There was no competing, no trying, no striving for a win, no being in the game. The team was simply not enough.

We feel that way sometimes, too. We seem to come up short. We feel that we're not enough. Often, we’re willing to bargain for, negotiate over, or borrow whatever it is we believe (or have been told) we’re lacking. Sometimes we even feel as though we’ve been branded with the big “L” – loser. If the rhythm of life gets stuck in the rut of more losses than gains, it is more and more tempting to toss in the towel and forfeit on the whole enterprise. Stop trying. Disengage. Pack up our marbles and stay home. Is there any hope of rising out of the rut and restoring the rhythm? Can we balance the ups and downs and outs of profiting, losing, and forfeiting?

It may well be sacrifice. That sounds counterintuitive. It could even be considered akin to forfeiting. But it’s not the same. It’s not giving up. And it’s certainly not disengaging. It’s giving, yes. And it’s engaging, yes, but unselfishly rather than selfishly. The very wise Frederick Buechner says that “to sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love.” Our time. Our voices. Our hands. Our resources. Our lives. We, giving ourselves away for love, override the rhythm of gain and loss, loss and gain because we're no longer counting. We, giving ourselves away for love, abandon the balancing act in favor of the incalculable joy of grace. Holy indeed.

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