A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
By the time you read this, the internet hype over the online game Wordle may be over, but as a big fan of word games (Bananagrams anyone?) I’ll still be happily playing it and hope to share a few insights I picked up participating in its daily challenge.
If you’re not familiar, the object of the game is to guess a five-letter word in six guesses or less. After you submit your initial guess, the game changes the color of each letter in the word you entered:
- Gray indicates the letter is not in the solution word.
- Yellow means that the letter is in the final word, but not in the correct position.
- Green tells you the letter is in the correct spot.
From there, you submit five more guesses as to what you think the solution may be, with each guess revealing more clues as the letters change colors.
Cruising along day after day, I successfully guessed the word in the allotted number of guesses, even considering changing my game settings to “Difficult” for a bigger challenge. Although I didn’t share my scores on social media, there was internal motivation to improve my personal statistics, guessing more words in fewer guesses and some friendly competition daily with one of our sons. He and I discussed the best strategies and starting words with the most common vowels and consonants. I thought I had the ultimate “starting” word. It worked well for me!
Until the day it didn’t.
My fail-safe word returned five gray blocks. As in 100 percent wrong. Crazy, but I physically felt a sting of disappointment. I started to panic, thinking I had nothing to build my next guess, which would lower my chances of solving it in five remaining guesses and end my winning streak.
Whoa…I had to slam the brakes on those ridiculous thoughts. I absolutely had something on which to build. Five solid choices of what didn’t work this time. Armed with that knowledge, I could come up with a secondary strategic word to get me back on track toward the final goal.
Aside from conquering a popular brain teaser, I suddenly realized that I’ve also reacted to some of my spiritual failures the very same way. I set out to meet daily challenges in what I may think are proven strategies, some even highly recommended by others. I’m stunned when I’m handed five gray blocks in return for my efforts. Irritated by broken personal “streaks,” I start to feel hopeless. Until I reset my thoughts and focus on where the Lord may be leading me to build on my failures.
Perhaps I lost my cool one day with a family member, friend, or coworker. Or stuck around in a conversation too long when I could’ve left or steered it in a better direction. Perhaps I’ve allowed another day to slip by without doing something the Lord has been prompting me to do.
When this happens, we shouldn’t feel hopeless. We need to focus on what didn’t work and what to avoid moving forward. Maybe certain circumstances or relationships in our lives now require a different approach. We need to ask the Lord to help us see and apply it.
In a word game built on random five-letter words in the English language, the same initial strategy won’t work every time. Statistically, the goal letters eventually will be different from personal favorites.
However, I believe our daily challenges in life are not random, and we need to trust the author of the puzzle will lead us to the goal He sets for us each day, despite our failures.
Disregard your streaks, examine what to avoid, and keep moving forward toward the goal!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.