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  • Writer's pictureLisa Blair Fratzke

On the edge of glory

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

There are two ways to play giant Jenga.

My family and I learned this on the soft carpet of our bonus room floor when my nephew was in town. He’s eight years old and he’s still learning what it means to lose. He wants to win. He wants to know that he is the best and someone else is not.

He sees winning as some sort of badge that says that he is OK.

So, when we were taking turns playing Jenga on the bonus room floor, I think my mom, dad and I all secretly knew what this game was going to be about. We were going to teach my nephew how to lose.


If you’ve played Jenga, then you know exactly how to play giant Jenga. The pieces are just bigger. The crash of the blocks is louder. The stakes are a little higher.

For every block that you remove, the tower gets less stable. There are no ifs, ands or buts, the tower is going to fall. The question is: Who is going to make all the blocks go tumbling down?

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty good at giant Jenga. I’ve got moves, and I’ve named them. That’s RIGHT! Here they are:

  • Woodpecker: You tap, tap, tap the block until it is loose enough and you can slide it out with minimal effort. 

  • The Woosh: This a “cut your losses” and run kind of move. You grab the block and at the speed of light, pull it from its place. Then, you live with the aftermath.

  • Edge of Glory: Pulling a block from the edge of the tower, so that it is now balancing on one block in the middle. That being said, there was no chance that I was going to throw this game so that my nephew could win. Instead, whenever my nephew made a risky move, my parents and I praised him for being a risk taker. If he pulled a block from the “edge of glory” we would cheer. If he pulled out a particularly difficult block from the bottom, we would comment on his daring.

If he pulled a block and the Jenga tower went tumbling down, we would we say that he played the game with great honor, even if he didn’t get the glory.


Here’s the thing about honor and glory.

They are concepts that other people were never supposed to define for us. There are a lot of different ways that we could define these words. We could see them as prizes to be won, etched on statues that are never touched behind sliding glass doors.

Or we could see them as words rooted in the actions of our lives. We could see them as the outcome of choices that we get to make.

We could choose to play each day looking to win or lose, or we could choose to live each day with a desire to grow, no matter the stakes. 

That kind of growth often happens on the edge of glory, one move away from all the blocks tumbling down.


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