I gave up golf about 10 years ago. I was never much of a golfer. I wasn’t as “serious” about it as some are. Golf seems to be the kind of game that people either love or hate – or love and hate.
Mark Twain said, “Golf is a good walk ruined.” That pretty much sums up how I feel about it.
I began playing golf when I was 16 years old. A friend of mine from high school had begun playing and he wanted to get me involved. So, we set out for the most inexpensive course in the area on a beautiful Saturday morning. I guess this was not the most popular course, because it seemed as if we were just about the only ones there.
We started at the driving range where I took my initial first swings. Those first swings were definitely a mixed bag. I was surprised at how good I was and how bad I was at the same time. Some hits went further and straighter than I would have imagined while others barely left the tee dribbling just a few feet forward.
Over the next couple of years, I played about once a month on average. I got better at parts of the game and worse at parts of the game. I tended to be able to hit off the tee well, but my middle game and putting was poor.
In college, I had friends who began playing more often than I did and who continue to play regularly today. I, on the other hand, found that I was getting increasingly frustrated by the fact that I never seemed to improve. In fact, I seemed to be getting worse.
This cycle continued for a handful more years until I decided I was done. Golf had become more expensive over the years and it just was not worth it to me to pay for that kind of frustration.
Not long after I quit playing, I realized something. The best that I ever was at golf was when I first began. I just went out there and hit the ball. And much of the time, I hit it very well. But I discovered I had a multitude of bad habits.
I was not swinging correctly, choosing the clubs correctly, or even holding the clubs correctly. Over the years, as I played more and more, I was essentially “practicing bad habits” and was getting better and better at those bad habits. As a result, my golf game got worse and worse over time.
Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I had started with just one or two lessons?
This can happen in any area of life. None of us is perfect. We all have bad habits, and frequently, we practice those bad habits getting more and more proficient with them.
In Christian theology, we hold to the belief that we are born into and live in a fallen world. As a result of that, we are all influenced in ways that are not particularly helpful in living a healthy, whole, and loving life. These influences affect us and shape us at the deepest levels of who we are. Sometimes, we are not even able to see clearly the things that are causing us to “slice and hook” our way through life.
Fortunately, lessons are available. In order to grow in life and improve, we have to have honest feedback from people who can see what we are doing more clearly than we can see ourselves.
Honestly, I do not regret never becoming good at golf. I have developed many other interests that are more enjoyable to me. Life, however, is intended to be a journey of growth.
God desires for us to become healthier, whole, and loving. This growth and health is also the source of our greatest satisfaction in life. This is a very spiritual journey in which God will help us, giving us spiritual resources such as Scripture, prayer, and community.
It is one thing to settle for a bad golf game. It is another thing to settle for a life that isn’t what it could be. After all, we only get to go around the course once.
May 2015 be a time of growth and blessing for you.