A few nights ago one of my childhood heroes, Jim Kelly, won The Jimmy V Award for perseverance at the ESPYs, an ESPN awards ceremony. Jim Kelly was the NFL star quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in the 80s and early 90s (I'll get to that in a second). Jim Kelly fought a rare form of cancer and was declared cancer-free in 2014, until his cancer recently returned. In Kelly's acceptance speech he started to choke up when he reflected on another tragedy in his life, the death of his 8-year-old son, Hunter, who was diagnosed with Krabbe disease after being born.
It is no doubt that Kelly has battled a lot, both post-retirement and also during his football career. Kelly led my team, the Buffalo Bills, to an unprecedented four Super Bowl appearances. While I looked forward to each of these four games, they bring up a lot of painful memories from my childhood as a Buffalo Bills' fan. Recently these memories were stirred up again as ESPN featured the story, "Four Falls of Buffalo," to chronicle their four straight Super Bowl defeats from 1990-93. I cried myself to sleep along with the rest of Western New York. The Buffalo Bills became known as "B.I.L.L.S. = Boy I Like Losing Super Bowls" and the butt of many jokes.
Through the ups and downs in his football career and life outside of sports, Kelly has no doubt persevered. Kelly attributes it to his faith in Jesus Christ. At the awards ceremony last night, he said something that rings true for us. "I came up with a saying: Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow." Disappointment doesn't discriminate. We all experience it whether it's on a smaller level or a more significant level.
You didn't do as well on a test even though you studied for hours.
You didn't get the promotion you thought you deserved.
Your job was eliminated.
You experienced rejection by someone you were hoping to date.
Your spouse cheats on you.
A family member passes away.
Disappointment happens in ministry, at work and in personal and family life. We know it will come, but how will we choose to handle it? Here's what the Jim Kelly and The Buffalo Bills taught me:
Acknowledge the disappointment. If we never talk about it with friends, in accountability circles or with spouses, we hold onto it instead of getting rid of it. There is something that happens when we are real before others and God. The truth sets us free, even if it's painful.
Let it kick your butt. However, only for a bit. It's okay to put your head under the covers or bury it in the sand for a moment. It's normal; however, it shouldn't be something we consistently do. It's good to remind ourselves of the promise that, "Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b)
It's not the end of the world. This too shall pass. We always have the promise of a new day with new opportunities before us. Loss and disappointment are very much real emotions but can't be an excuse for not taking the next opportunity or God-adventure right in front of us. Every season in life comes with twists and turns, but disappointment is not a perpetual season we have to find ourselves in.
Tomorrow is a new day. Life goes on, and the pain doesn't last even though the scars do. They are reminders of lessons we can learn and carry with us for the rest of our lives to help others for God's glory.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Rosario Picardo