Letting Go to Get More

I love golf. No, I really love golf. I’ve been playing the game for close to two years now and even though I’m still pretty terrible at it, there’s just something about this game that keeps me coming back. I don’t think I knew this, but from the first time I played I was hooked. And while I’m already sold on it, a recent incident has given me a new appreciation for the game in a new way.

If you’re a golfer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is something mysterious and magical about it. Maybe it’s the way golf contains echoes several real principles that are also true of life in general. Here are a few:

  • No matter what situation you find yourself in, your greatest enemy or your greatest ally is yourself.
  • Whatever situation you find yourself in, there is no shortcut to get out of it. As much as you want to undo what’s been done, you simply have to move forward and accept your mistakes.
  • There are always a thousand different things that can go wrong. Stay alert.
  • Attitude is everything. Keep your cool.
  • You only get out of it what you put into it. If you show up unpracticed, you can be sure that it will show. The things you have practiced off the course will be revealed on the course. No way around it.

While not listed among the cheapest of hobbies, nor the least time-consuming, I still love to play. As much as I can I get out and practice and play with friends and colleagues. Recently I had to… “review” my golf spending habits with my wife and we arrived at the conclusion that I have been spending a bit too much on this favorite past time of mine. Needless to say, I was a little upset. I felt as if all my hopes and dreams of continuing to enjoy this great sport and time-honored tradition were being flushed right down the drain. I didn’t want to have to put limits on something that I already felt was extremely limited.

But sadly she was right. I hadn’t been keeping things under control with my golf budget and eventually leaking little bits of money leads to lots of money which leads to big trouble. So I agreed (again) to keep strictly to my budget and operate within the limits so my “hobby” wouldn’t sink our ship. Meanwhile I went into mourning.

Ok, I’m being dramatic. But I remember praying about this because I was really having a hard time dealing with it. Was I just being extremely selfish? Probably. Even so, I really wanted to learn from it. Through praying and processing I got the sense that everything would end up ok if I kept trusting. The fact is I don’t need golf to survive. I need God and I know that He ultimately satisfies me completely. I could let go and know that everything would be fine. But God had even more to teach me.

A couple days later, I received a couple of invitations from people to go play golf… for free. While a game is not the most important thing, it was like God was telling me that He has things under control, even down to the slightest detail. In my selfish little fit I thought I’d never play again and that my golf “life” was over. But He turns around and blesses me with more than I expected. I think the way I viewed golf had to be taken from something I was greedy to gain, to something that was given to me freely. Gratefulness changes everything.

This is a principle that has proven true in many instances of my life. God is our Father and as such He sometimes has to take things from us that we feel are essential. That girl I was dating (ok, there were a few of those)…that dream of being famous…that desire to make millions… all things that probably would have destroyed me. God isn’t out to spoil all of our fun, but He is jealous for our affection and wants us to treasure Him above all. There are times when He asks us for things that seem pretty painful to surrender. We have to let go completely and trust that our heavenly Father knows best. The good part is that God’s best is better than any best we could ever think of for ourselves. If we could just learn to trust Him, like little children, we’d be much happier. He really does want to give us good gifts (every good gift is from Him!), but it’s hard to put something in someone’s hand when it’s closed tightly in a fist.

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