Opinion: Being a loser isn’t such a bad thing

Published 8:49 am Friday, February 28, 2014

By Pastor Randy Fossum

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Austin

A gentleman who attended a funeral service I conducted a couple of weeks ago came up to me after the service and asked if he could ride with me to the committal service, a 45 minute drive from the church. He seemed anxious to talk. On the way to and from the cemetery he spoke freely of marriage problems and family problems that had gone on for years and was still ongoing, in short, a picture of a dysfunctional marriage and family life. He expressed the feeling of being a loser as a husband and a father. I encouraged him, oddly enough, to be a loser but only in the same way that the following bit of marital advice suggests.

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“The third kind of marriage is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all—themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other. These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful.” [Emphasis mine, R.F.]

I’m guessing that you have watched some of the Winter Olympics on TV in the last week or two. An athlete who gets to participate in the games at Sochi, Russia, did not get there by cultivating the art of losing. And certainly the athlete that is set on winning the gold will not conduct themselves during the competition that will in any way enhance the strength of the others; they will not want to give of themselves for another whom they are competing against as that would likely mean that they could lose and not win.

What a contrast to marriage which at times becomes a competition of sorts. Love, on the other hand does not mean getting your own way or winning anything. Love means doing those things that will help our spouse or enhance the strength of the other. The happier marriages are those where husband and wife are set on being losers where they serve each other without fear and without expectation of reward (medals?), and where they give of themselves to the other even if it is uncomfortable and painful.

It should not surprise us that relationships are built, renewed and restored by losing.

In a very real sense beyond what we can even imagine, our Savior was a loser. Losing became a way of life for Him in order to fix the broken relationship that existed between God the Father and man that existed after the fall into sin. And it is only through imitating (Ephesians 5:1-2) and cultivating the art of losing that we see in Christ and applying that to our own dysfunctional relationships can we ever hope to have the marriages and family life that God desires for us.