Elliot lost tonight and I couldn’t be prouder. No,
Elliot isn’t a thorough bred I bet against on a 3 – 1 Trifecta
Triathlon Santa Clarita. Elliot isn’t the heavyweight from England so
him losing didn’t make me sing the Star Spangled Banner and feel proud
to be an American. That’s not what made me proud of Elliot’s losing.
Elliot is neither a professional or a heavyweight. He’s just a 17-
year old kid who lost a high school wrestling match. His loss was
touching to me not because I was cheering against him, I was actually
cheering for him. But, Elliot last tonight… or did he?
Let me set the stage before I tell his tale. Elliot is a
lanky 140lb wrestler for Auburn. That would be Auburn High School,
not Auburn University. That would make Elliot a kid, 17-years old to
be exact. Ten–Twelve blocks from the gym at Auburn High, especially
at Auburn High wresting matches boys wrestle because they love the
sport and love competing and yes, they love to win. But you don’t
always win. Elliot lost tonight. There were no television cameras
there to chronicle his defeat. There weren’t even that many fans;
moms and dads, a girlfriend here and there, and a favorite old washed
wrestles re-living their victories (don’t we all win in our memories,
and our dreams). Tonight was no dream for when you’re 17 you haven’t
started cataloging memories yet, you’re only making them. And
tonight, Elliot’s reality was he lost. Perhaps tomorrow, or in twenty
year he will see beyond a scoreboard. Tonight he will only re-live
the “what-could-have-been”. I’m proud he lost. Elliot is with the
taste of defeat stuck in his throat like a lie.
It was a good match, but it wasn’t close. The final
score was 16 – 6, or something like that. We all quit looking at the
scoreboard’s tally long before the numbers quit turning. We were
looking at Elliot. There was something happening right before our
eyes. Something was happening within the boy that made parents and
coaches watch and wonder. At first we wondered could he win, but that
was settled early. He wouldn’t win. His opponent was worthy, a fine
looking young man himself, disciplines, strong and confident from the
start he would win this match, and he did. Elliot lost the match.
The match was his last, ever. When you lose at the
sectionals the season is over. When you’re 17 and a high school
senior – if you lose in the sectionals, your career is over. Elliot
wrestles for six years at Auburn, ending a career, albeit a high
school one means a season of your life is over. Six years out of a
life of seventeen is not just a season of sports, but a career.
Elliot lost. His season ended. Six years summed up in six minutes.
In case you don’t know, and most don’t (unless you’re a
parent, a coach or a girlfriend who sit in gyms on hard bleachers for
hours), a wrestling match is six minutes. You can win by points or a
pin. Wrestlers don’t like to lose by points. Wrestlers hate to get
pinned. Elliot lost by points. He did get pinned. Herein is part of
Elliot went into his final match knowing he had to win
for his career, and his chance to go to “State” to continue. He also
know his opponent was higher ranked than him. People would expect
Elliot to lose. Elliot didn’t share their expectations. He planned
to win. What he didn’t plan was to have a shoulder injury. His
shoulder was hurt late in the season and never healed. His right
shoulder, Elliot is right-handed so his right shoulder was his strong
side. He wrestled on in between ice packs, heat pads, a brace and
Ibuprofens. He was a wrestler, not a complainer and never, ever a
Elliot lost today, but not before he won two matches
earlier in the day he beat two other young men. He pinned them both
(and remember wrestlers hate to be pinned, do all they can to keep
from being pinned).
Elliot’s pins were moments of glory. They were however
costly. His injured shoulder was pushed past pain. His arm became
limp and his fingers numb. But Elliot is a wrestler and this was
sectionals. Wrestlers don’t quit. The gene that allows quitting
DNA. Less you think I’m cruelly judgmental – you watch wrestlers
practice. My diagnosis isn’t criticism, but praise. Wrestlers do not
quit. Elliot is a wrestler.
Elliot went into the match that would be his final match
“bummed up”. When you say “injured” mommas and doctors and school
officials want you to forfeit, give-up, quit before a fight. Mommas
and doctors and school officials are seldom wrestlers. So Elliot
fought, with a grimace and at times a tear be fought. With one arm
dangling like a flag lowered at the end of a day, or a battle he
fought. His arm dangling must meant something else to him. I don’t
think Elliot studied surrender a lot in his years at Auburn High.
He stood toe to toe with a strong, trained, talented
wrestler who had both arms poised. From the opposing whistle the
outcome was evident to all. A wounded Elliot was no match for a
healthy warrior. So as to not seem prejudiced or making excuses none
of us who watched were sure Elliot could’ve boat the other boy had he
been perfectly healthy. And he was not healthy. It wasn’t pretty.
The points piled up as Elliot’s pain went up. He couldn’t grab or
grasp with his right arm. It was a massacre.
Over a hundred years ago Confederate General James
Pickett lead his men into a massacre as thousands of hungry, wounded,
ill equipped southern boys charged a union stronghold on Cemetery
Ridge, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The union troops, armed with
repeater rifles began to mow the rebel boys down like autumn hay. The
southern boys had single shot muskets, fired on the run they had no
time to reload.
Their charge brought them face to face with trained
soldiers who shot them by the thousand. Forced to retreat, but too
proud to turn and run the southern troops marched backwards making
their union foes look them eye to eye as they fired and fired and
fired. An union aide de camp stood up and shouted. “My God! They’re
being massacred.” To which his superior, Colonel Chamberlain stood,
saluting his worthy opponents and said, “Ay, but wouldn’t they die
Elliot’s wrestling match was no war. It was just a
sporting event, a game. And I almost hate to compare one with
another, but I am a southern writer, tales of southern value ever
color my comparisons, even when it’s just a wrestling match.
Elliot was being massacred. 2 – 0, 4 – 0, 6 –1, 8 – 2…
but he didn’t quit. He wouldn’t quit. 10 – 3, 12 – 4 with his arm
hanging he held on. Mothers prayed for a quick pin to end it. Elliot
disappointed the mothers by keeping on. Even his opponent seemed to
sense it. He gave up on winning points and tried to pin the on e he’d
beaten so badly. He couldn’t. He had beat Elliot, but somehow in
less Elliot had tested him.
In the last seconds, of the last period he pushed and
pummeled but Elliot would not be pinned. The match was over. There
was no question Elliot could not win, but he held on in his hurt.
This was his last match at Auburn High, his last match ever. He would
not go out to a victor’s laurel, but he would not go out quitting
either. Champions receive rings. Heroes get crowns. The scoreboards
clock ticked 3, 2, 1 and it was over. The boy who won had his arm
held high victory. Elliot’s arm hung low in pain. The boy won was
all smiles. Elliot’s face grimaced in the agony of pain defeat and
ending. It was over. But is anything really ever… over.
I waited, loss needs a moment of its own. I waited, then
I went to find Elliot crumpled on a locker room floor, taking off his
shoulder brace. He had friends and brothers gathered around him. His
coach came in to compliment and console. Elliot tears came despite
the crowd. I don’t think he wept because he hurt, he wept for deeper
pain. Seventeen-year-old boys don’t cry easy or often, so when they
do you know its real. To cry in the presence of teammates and
brothers is a sight seldom seen. You don’t console such pain. You
dare not try to explain or excuse it. No, such tears are treasures
few men ever see or dare share. So my time with Elliot was brief.
Long enough to burn into my memory, but quick enough so as not to
loiter in the holy. And yes, o yes, such time is sacred.
I listened to him weep, and when it slowed I offered one
pale point, “Elliot” I told him, looking in his eyes, tears in mine
now too, “Elliot” … “Remember this, all great warriors go out
wounded. “Everything else I wanted to say, all else I needed to say
was said with the nod of a head. He knew… he’s seen that nod
before. He’s seen it all his life. So he knows what it means.
“Elliot, my boy… I love you and I’m proud of you.”
Elliot lost tonight… or did he?
I’m honored and humbled if you are reading this blog. I know you have hundreds of other things you could be doing. So I promise you that when I do write on here I will prayerfully attempt to write something meaningful, pertinent and hopefully interesting. With God’s help I can only hope at times my words might be anointed in some way as to draw you closer to Christ. Words can have power, beauty, and meaning, but only God’s words are living. I would like to think, and plan to write in such a way that those who take the time to read will encounter the Living Word through my words.
I’ve written for years. What I’ve written have been sermons. I started preaching as a 9 year old boy. That’s a story in and of itself I’ll have to write about sometime. Different preachers write their sermons in a manuscript format, (my mentor, David Wilkerson used to write his in a similar fashion.) What that means is an average sermon comes out to roughly one page per one minuet preached (I write bigger so that I can easily see it and with some lines blank so that I can keep up with it), but on average one page equaled one minute. Thus a Baptist sermon would be 30 written pages, a pentecostal sermon 40-50 pages and a Unitarian Univeralist sermon would be one scrap of notecard.
What this means is while I’ve never written a book or a blog I have written hundreds of sermons, which multiplied times my 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 pages comes to quite a bit of words. I’m actually working on re-writing some of those sermons into a book right now.
But for this blog, I will try and keep it simple. Just simple words from a simple man. All I ask is that you read what I have. Share it with others if it’s good. And let me know what you think, “What did God show you from what’s written here?”, “Did you get anything out of this blog?” and “What is God doing of a similar fashion in your life?” That type of feedback. I promise not to tell you my view on “Hyper dispositional Melchizidek bio feedback” type of stuff if you will keep your views on that sort of thing to yourself as well.
I.E. this blog will not be about religion. It will not be “churchy”, it will be about life and how to connect to Life. Jesus was the “Word become flesh.” Our blog will be words from mere flesh, BUT, with a hope, a prayer and a plan some of these words will lead you to THE WORD and our flesh will take you to HIM.
So buckle up…and let’s begin this blog.
My son, Winchester, insures me that people read “blogs.” I’m not sure, but then I’m not technologically savy, twenty-something, or cool. I used to be cool. I think if you were cool when you were 21 and now your 53 your “coolness” has probably been downgraded along with your kidney function and the type of car you drive. Maybe writing a blog will help me rescue some of my coolness or at least borrow some of my son’s and some from all the cool (I think you like to be referred to as hip) people who will be reading this.