Last Saturday, America’s women handily dispatched the Colombian women for their second win in the group stage of the 2011 Women’s World Cup—the most significant women’s soccer competition on the planet. The final score was 3-0, and that would seem to be a very thorough victory. In fact, it was thorough enough that it made largely irrelevant today’s final group stage game (against Sweden). In many ways the win was just that thorough—but for one important thing. The US squad had countless chances in front of the goal and absolutely dominated time of possession, but they failed to put away goals when they had the opportunity. Taking 27 shots—many of them at close range— and only scoring three goals smacked of missed opportunities. The game of soccer tends to punish teams that miss so many opportunities, so now, the US women will need to learn from Saturday’s lost opportunities so that they can be better equipped to face the stiff competition ahead in this great tournament.
In our more reflective moments, we too can look back on strategic times in life where we had an opportunity to do something worthwhile—to make a difference in this world for Christ or for others—but we failed to rise to the moment and embrace the opportunity. I know I have my own moments of failure. You probably have yours as well. So, what do we do with that sense of regret over past failures?
May I suggest that, we cannot undo our past and its record—whether good or bad—but we can learn from it. We can learn from the disappointment with ourselves that accompanies those deep regrets. We can learn and seek to embrace the next opportunity. Whether our past is brilliant or dismal, the next opportunity is still the next opportunity, and, as Paul said:
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
We cannot escape our past regrets, but we can determine that, with God’s help, we will make the most of the next opportunity to do good in Jesus’ name. We can learn. And by learning we can limit the regrets in the future that we may have struggled with in the past.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain