I’m not sure about the year, but I still feel the humiliation; the over/under would be 5th grade. I was in the finals of our class chess tournament; the championship game was in front of our entire class. My time in the spotlight ended in four moves. Before it barely began, it was over — checkmate.
While my classmates were spared boredom, I was publicly and utterly defeated. A friend whispered to me: “Don’t feel so bad, Wallis. He beat everyone else like that, too. He learned it from the Encyclopedia Britannica. It’s called ‘Fool’s Mate’.” After years of enjoying playing chess, I suffered the agony of defeat at the hands of a kid who merely looked up “chess” in an encyclopedia — making a fool out of me.
It wouldn’t have helped for Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” to let me know it’s not called fool’s mate, but “Scholar’s Mate”; I still would have felt foolish. Furthermore, I felt frustration that no one had warned me. Why didn’t my friends inform me about how he’d won? Was anyone really my friend? Why hadn’t I studied chess instead of just playing it? Why couldn’t I have privately lost earlier instead of so publicly now?
Maybe that’s one reason I would feel called to a profession where I am in the 5%. In my version of “Scholar’s Mate”, I study the Bible, commentaries, and the teachings of spiritual leaders more than many. I spend a lot of my time warning my friends. I am sensitive to listening for pride and humiliation from others as I share God’s forgiveness, grace, and love. I guess I learned some life lessons from the consequences of losing at childhood chess; thankfully the cost of those lessons was relatively low.
God offers us choices and consequences in our lives. We are given the choice to learn lessons from our experience, or to ignore them. I sense God allowing us to learn from the consequences of our actions, because “we not punished for our sin as much as we are punished by our sin.” Some lessons are learned when the cost of our choice is low; some lessons are delayed until the cost is greater. Sometimes we suffer the consequences of the choices of others.
How have your past life lessons impacted your present? What are the consequences of your choices and actions teaching you today? How do you open your heart, mind, and body to how God is trying to warn you before the consequence of your personal checkmate?