Life Lessons From a Hockey Game

How could this have happened? How could something we worked so hard for be handed over to the enemy so quickly? Those were the sentiments of the San Jose Sharks immediately following a home game against the Colorado Avalanche. During the entire 60 minutes of play the Sharks dominated and victory was within reach. Then calamity struck. One misguided backhand landed the puck in the wrong net. The Avalanche won by a fluke. Dan Boyle went to his dressing room embarrassed, stunned and defeated. In a strange way I know exactly how he felt.

Although it was two years ago, I can still feel the shame and humiliation as if it happened yesterday. A family I dearly love had faced a disaster of indescribable proportions. “Lita” had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer and she was in the early stages of treatment. Upon returning home from her first chemotherapy appointment, she pulled in the driveway and watched her house and everything in it burn to the ground. Miraculously, none of its eight occupants were home when the fire started, but suddenly cancer seemed like a small hill to climb. My sweet friend was not only fighting for her life, she was also homeless.

I immediately sprung into action. With the help of my small church, we canvassed the surrounding area asking for donations. I set up a bank account where money could be deposited and my garage became a used clothing warehouse. My computer guru friend, Josh, erected a Web site and Operation Restoration was underway. By this time I was utterly exhausted. When I wasn’t out on the streets asking vendors for donations (something that went way beyond my comfort zone) I was knee deep in used clothes. In between all of this I still had my own family and home to take care of. My writing went by the wayside as I started making additions and changes to the Web site.

That is when I had my Dan Boyle moment. In one foul swoop everything I had worked so hard for came crashing down around me. I was stunned, as if the wind had been knocked out of me. I received an e-mail from a well-intentioned stranger. I cannot remember specifics but I can still feel the anger that the writer poured into her words. In between her contempt I saw what I had done. On the Web site was a list of items the family needed. Because their home and all of its contents was gone, it made sense in my mind to name each item, no matter how large or small. While nobody needs a grand piano, Lita played one every day for years. While Harley leathers are certainly not needs, they were in her husband’s closet. It never even occurred to me to ask someone to check the list before I posted it. I will regret that choice for the rest of my life.

I have learned a few things about determination. After you fall you get back up because it would be ludicrous to allow the enemy another fluke victory. You decide to take back what your opponent has stolen. The most rewarding accomplishments are the ones that are a direct result of pain and suffering. Even in our failures we are driven to rise above because it is our birthright to succeed. It took a few weeks but Lita got her grand piano. What happened to Boyle and his team? They won the series after Boyle scored the winning goal. Our adversary will fall when we decide to rise. In Christ we are more than conquerors.

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