Some games are short and produce immediate results. And others are longer, perhaps even without end. And while the fruit of these games tends to be deeply satisfying, it usually comes only in time and with much patience. Wisdom calls for playing many short games, without losing sight of the longer games that matter more.
For instance, playing tag, checkers, or the like with our kids are examples of playing games at multiple levels. On the one hand, particularly when they’re really young, we’re playing the short game of simply teaching them the rules. And, in time, we get to enjoy the pure delight of playing the game itself. But the longer game behind all of this is the game of love and connection.
And this is why we don’t mind letting them win occasionally. Winning the short game is not as important as winning the long game – building a lasting connection and communicating to them unconditional love.
Of course, as they get older, we must also teach them that life won’t just be handed to them. It’s important for them to learn hard work and how to navigate the losses of life with grace and hope. Even still, we don’t lose sight of our practice of love as we introduce them to these harsher realities. Whatever it looks like, time and again we’re constantly playing games at multiple levels. And this remains true throughout our life.
For example, in marriage playing the longer game gives us the freedom not to have to “win” every fight. Many times we can take the hit and let things go because it’s more important to foster our connection and focus on what our wife needs to become her best. This doesn’t mean we become a doormat, as some issues are worth fighting for. But it’s a reminder to keep playing the longer game and not lose sight of what’s important.
In the end, remember some games matter more than others. Don’t let the immediate satisfaction of a short game distract you from the importance of playing the longer one.