Losing battles you’re never going to win

My Gran ‘lost her battle with dementia’ earlier this morning. Yet since the day of the diagnosis over 5 years ago, there was only ever going to be one winner. It wasnt really a fair battle, not like two equal teams, where one has a chance of an upset, or the Lord of the Rings when the living enquire on the possibility of the dead fighting on their side.  The fight my gran had with dementia, and many many others have had to endure is not one that has a happy physical ending.

As a battle that she lost it was an unfair contest from the outset. She died at peace.

This afternoon i took myself out for a walk with the dog, along the beach at Crimdon, the tide was coming in, and nearly fully in, but it wasnt so dangerous near to the cliffs that i was going to get stuck, and though it was windy, the sea was calm.

I needed the space, some time to reflect, some time just to reconnect with the bigness of the world again. If it wasnt so windy, i might have gone out on the bike instead. But the sea was therapeutic. The dog a stupid distraction as ever.. rolling in dead seal…

But it did make me wonder, and think just a little bit practically about the nature of the local aspects of ministry, whether with young people, in organisations, in churches and think about whether there are actually any battles in the roles that we’re in that we’re doomed to lose, as soon as we’ve started, or the die has been cast. Not to be deliberately morbid or negative, but genuinely are there battles that lost before they’ve been fought?

The question might be, how do we get out of them, or how might we overcome them, despite them.  The reality in terms of faith is that we might be called to play the correct part in every situation, that every situation is an opportunity to walk ‘in the light’ even when circumstances are dark, or the battle of its situation has been lost.

Whilst thinking about the seriousness of funding situations, the solution might not be obvious, but it might not be impossible. Compare this to a shift in government policy for young people that shifts its direction slowly from provision to proscription. But neither is a situation with a person, or a young person a battle lost, but an opportunity to overcome.

If they say ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast ‘ does a battle to change culture be inevitably draining, invigorating but challenging, though on other occasions that cultural practice is so strong it consumes the fight. Better to get out the wheel and make a new path than hope the wheel helps the path be made I guess.

But are there genuinely ‘losing’ battles in youth work & ministry?


2 thoughts on “Losing battles you’re never going to win

  1. Condolences James.
    I can empathise with you, I went through a similar time with my mother.
    Fools errand? Kings of lost causes? Ship of fools? The myth of Sisyphus?
    Sisyphus was condemned, by the gods, to roll a huge rock to the top of a mountain and at the pinacle it rolled back down, as YWs do we have tasks that are not worthwhile because they are un-winable? I would say no! We have a relationship to our rock and we struggle with it with a hope that it will balance at the top of the mountain and when it teeters and falls back down we rollup our sleeves and commit ourselves to going on with the task.
    In Mt.26:11 Jesus says, and I take it out of its immediate context, that we will always have the poor. Whether they are monetarily poor or poor of spirit etc makes no difference, they need help, so we help them in whatever way we can. We cannot force [a person to] change, but we can be a force for [cultural] change.

    Liked by 1 person

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