Taking the Punch

When Manny Pacquiao lost to Manuel Marquez, Facebook was flooded with all sorts of wall posts. There were criticisms. There were praises. There were those that hinted at the match being a mistake in itself. There were many whose comments sounded close to a eulogy. And, of course, a good number were after the reaction of Nanay Dionesia.

Without tackling the details of the fight, the greater question was: What did Manny feel after losing the fight?

In the eyes of the judges, Manny lost the fight. But in the eyes of the public, the Filipinos, his fans, friends and family, Manny was their winner. Tabulations may not have been to his favor, but the strong connection that Manny successfully established with Filipino and foreign boxing enthusiasts alike made him a victor. That explained why even if the scorecards favored Marquez, Manny remained a hero to many. He was more than a boxer; he became a part of their lives.

There was something about what Manny did after the fight that placed him up high the pedestal. His character – or at least that person within him that he showed during the interview after the fight – was admirable. He congratulated Marquez. He admitted to his own faults. He took in punches.


Dec 8, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Manny Pacquiao (Gray trunks) and Juan Manuel Marquez (Black/Green/Red trunks) box during their welterweight bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Juan Manuel Marquez won the fight by sixth round knockout. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-98010 ORIG FILE ID: 20121208_pjc_aa9_576.JPG

A punch in boxing is a hit on any part. Since it is a hit, it causes pain. Taking many of it either causes a knockout or defeat. No boxer wants to receive a punch; every boxer wants to give one to an opponent.

But that is boxing. In real life, in the Christian context, taking a punch – getting hurt, in short – is not necessarily a show of weakness. In like manner, it is not automatically a show of strength. A punch can be a process of revealing our aspirations in life. It is when we feel it and the pain that comes with it that we are reminded of what truly matter in our life.

Like boxing, when we are punched on the face, we realize we are at a disadvantage. It can mean points for our opponent, a black-eye, a potential damage to the brain. But among boxers, the more they get hit, the harder they work at regaining control.

The proverbial boxing in our life holds no difference. We break down and cry, we lose hope. We start to question “Why?” That is usually the initial reaction. But along the way, the punches that we receive in life restore us to a certain consciousness. They usher us to a deep reflection on what went wrong and what could have been done to avoid it. We learn, we grow, we move on.

When events that unfold in our lives swerve past our own plans and timelines though, we have the tendency to lose faith. We get frustrated and become irritable. It is human nature to chicken out at the prospect of a second chance. Cynicism paralyzes us from pushing ourselves to know ourselves better beyond our comfort zones.

And this can be born of the fact that a number of us are consumed by our attachment to a materialistic appreciation of life and success. We tend to equate happiness with blitz and bling. We give up on how life is more about the journey – what you encounter and achieve along the way – over the actual destination. And while we can all become Manny Pacquiao who gracefully accepts defeat but continues to beat a victorious heart, some of us are held back by our inability to find contentment and inner peace in what best we have at a particular time in our life.

Sharing with you this point of reflection from the devotional, “Wisdom for the Way”. It describes how many of us have been infected with the “If Only” disease:

A cheerful heart has a continual feast. — Proverbs 15:15

 Many folks eat their hearts out, suffering from the contagious “If Only” disease. Its germs infect every slice of life. If only I had more money. If only we owned a nicer home. If only we could have children. If only he would ask me out. If only I had more friends.

 The list is endless. Woven through the fabric of all those words is a sigh that comes from the daily grind of discontentment. Taken far enough, it leads to the dead-end street of self-pity — one of the most distasteful and inexcusable of all attitudes. Discontentment is one of those daily grinds that forces others to listen to our list of woes. But they don’t for long! Discontented souls soon become lonely souls.

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