Sometimes the difference in a winning season and a losing season is in the way we think about ourselves after we mess up or lose a game.

I went to a basketball game the other day. My team lost but I didn’t feel sad or blame any of the players for a poor performance. I see winning and losing differently now because I am a mother of a daughter who played basketball. I know about all the time and effort that goes into being on a basketball team. I know about the long practices, painful injuries, competition for positions and the deep personal disappointment that follows losing an important game. I know every player on the court is trying their best.

I remember telling my daughter after a heartbreaking loss, "Maybe it's not so much about winning or losing, but putting everything you have on the court so you can walk away knowing you gave it all you had."

"Yeah I know all that Mom, but it still hurts," my daughter answered.

Now when I go home from any sporting event where my team doesn't win, I think about all those young men or women who gave their best to an effort that didn't work out the way they planned. I know they’re probably at home hurting inside - criticizing themselves or wishing for a second chance on a crucial play.

I want to say, “Stop! Look forward, not back. You can’t change what has already happened. Picture yourself doing better in your next game.”

I read an amazing study once that said the difference between a winning and losing season for two teams with equal talent is how the individual players think about themselves after losing a game. Players who visualize them selves doing better in the next game have a much better chance of a winning season than players who are overly self-critical and dwell on past mistakes.

It works the same way at home. When we are overly self critical and agonize about everything we said or did we have a hard time living in the present or moving into the future with hope and joy. At times, we all wish we could get a second chance, but we can’t go back. However, we do have the ability to positively influence lives today. If we don’t visualize our selves doing better tomorrow, we spend too long in despair.

Some people score their parenting success by how their children turn out. The truth is many wonderful parents won’t see an immediate return on their investment. No matter what anyone says to make them feel better, it still hurts. If we are wise, we will stop keeping score that way. In every sporting event there is a winner and a loser; but parenting is different. There are no winners and losers because the game never ends and God is the only one who knows enough to keep score.

Some of our heart-felt desires are fulfilled but many are not. For each life comes with sunshine and sorrow, happiness and heartache. Yet one thing I also know about life - no matter what happen to us - it goes on. The score-keeper’s total at the end of the game may not be what we counted on and the harvest isn’t always what we expect. Yet, through the grace of God, there is always another season yet to come.