I am a competitive person; a competitive person who wins some and loses more. Being a competitive person who loses often is never a great place to be. I have cried hysterically over a loss, thrown tantrums, said “it’s not fair,” when in actuality it is fair. When playing cards I have thrown them at another person (Sorry Jay). I always hate myself after losing control of my emotions. Yes, I admit it; I am an adult who has thrown a tantrum over losing. The Keith family members are notorious winners, so losing … it kinda happens a lot for me. Jay, for example, wins like 99% of the time … ok, maybe a slight exaggeration. This is so frustrating for a competitive-you-win-some-you-lose-some kind of person.
Over the last couple months, the way I react to losing was all over my Jay’s face. He gave me looks of disappointment, sadness, and discouragement. But the hurt-filled emotions of anger, pride, and low self-worth, race through me when I loose. The look on Jay’s face is what hurts the most. The last time we played a game, just the two of us he said that he wasn’t sure if us playing by ourselves was healthy for either of us. It breaks my heart that there is a place in our lives where I am not a safe space for my husband. It makes me sad.
God created us with all the emotions we have. What He gives us is not bad. However, what we do with it may or may not be. In every situation, we need to control our emotions, especially when emotions are high. Controlling our emotions and attitudes is really what poor sportsmanship is about. While this is easier said than done and takes a lot of practice, the end results will be well worth the effort.
Being a poor sport means that we are letting our anger take control of us, instead of controlling our anger. Now, I know there are some who believe that being angry with someone is the same as murdering them, that being angry is a sin. Well … I disagree. The scripture that most refer to is Matthew 5:21-22, where Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. AGAIN, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘you fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.
In this passage, Jesus describes murder – an action – as a sin. Then He said that anyone who is angry will be subject to judgment and then continues and clarifies that anyone who is angry and sins against them are in danger of the fire of hell.
Also, if anger is a sin then God has sinned. We see His anger against the Israelites in Exodus or the many times Israel turned away from God to worship other gods. Being angry is different from murder. My God is perfect, anger is not a sin. He made us with the emotion; He does not create us to fail but created us to grow and prosper. It is our reaction to anger that makes it a sin.
But to clarify, the Bible says in 1 John 3:15 that hating someone is the same as murder. So don’t do it. Don’t let your anger take you so far that you hate another person.
Don’t do it … don’t get angry
Although anger is not a sin, I feel the need to point out the warnings God gives us to avoid anger. Psalm 37:8 says “refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.” God warns us about those who are quick to anger because “a quick-tempered person does foolish things,” Proverbs 14:17.
Proverbs 22: 24-25 says to not associate with someone who is “easily angered;” because their bad habit will wear off on you.
Ephesians 4: 26-31 is a wonderful passage that tells us to not stay angry. Because when we stay angry the enemy – the devil – will take hold. The passage also says we need to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (This passage agrees with Colossians 3:8).
It is better to stay away from emotions that can lead us to sin. The emotion itself is not a sin, but what we do with it can be. Anger can lead to bad ‘things’ if it is in control of us. If any emotion has control over us, we will walk down dangerous paths. However, if we have control over our emotions we will, eventually, lead a more peaceful life.
Facts about Anger
Something I learned in a health or psychology class: when we are angry the blood vessels in our brains get smaller. Blood carries oxygen throughout our bodies … this means when we are angry less oxygen gets to our brains. And did you know that we need oxygen to think? (So the next time you have a hard time thinking, take a couple deep breaths.) Therefore when we are angry, it is literally harder to think.
Something that works for me is (1) learning what my anger feels like and (2) consciously taking deep breaths. It is still something I practice, not perfected, but getting better. Also, I have found that not speaking helps me think better … go figure.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:2 that “when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” I have decided that in moments of poor sportsmanship, I am having an issue with pride. Again, there is nothing wrong with being proud of doing a good job, or of taking pride in your work, or even being proud that you won at something. There is an issue when you become arrogant, showing a lack of humility and grace.
One tip I have to be a better sport is to play with humility. Win, lose or draw, in my case take my loose, with humility. Just because I am playing a game doesn’t mean that I deserve to win … nor does it mean that my opponent deserves to lose.
As a kid I played soccer, my coach would make my team go to congratulate the opposing team, whether we won or lost. “Good game,” have you ever had to say that? Sometimes it’s like vinegar in my mouth. But that was my coach teaching us how to be a good sport; teaching us how to be humble.
You see, when I lose, for me it is not just a loss, it’s a reflection on my worth. However, in the last few months, I have worked really hard on being a better sport. I have turned to God and realized that it is not the winning or losing that is a reflection of my worth, but how I react to winning or losing is a reflection of my heart. I want my heart to reflect my God. Losing my temper and throwing a tantrum does not reflect the loving, forgiving, merciful, grace giving God who loves me even when my actions make Him shake His head.
Check out my post of Are You Enough? Are You Worthy?
Please remember what Matthew 10: 29-31 says:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
COMPETITIVE Emotions CAN BE GOOD … IF WE MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES
Ok … let me say that being competitive isn’t a bad thing. Being competitive drives us in sports, games, sometimes in our jobs, sometimes with ourselves. It is what we do with that competitiveness that may be a sin. Also, participating in competitive activities can be a good thing. Competitive activities can help build relationships. The United States made it to the moon first because of a competitive spirit. It is what we chose to do with our competitiveness and what we choose to do and say in competitive situations that can be the wrong choice.
As I finish this post, I realize that this is one of the posts that I had to write for me. It is an area that I have struggled with more than I would care to admit in my life. However, I hope that my journey through the rough terrain of being a better sport is helpful to some of you out there. This is some of what I have learned, I will continue to learn the Lord’s will and practice what He teaches. My prayer for you is the same.
Have a blessed day y’all
1 John 3:15 – Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
Proverbs 22: 24-25 – Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.
Colossians 3:8 – But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.