Posted by: zephaniah317 | July 2, 2008

I Can Handle This

So, a few weeks ago, I shot an 83 at a local golf course.  A very difficult golf course.  I played out of my mind, and got a few breaks, but mostly, I found my golf swing, which gave me a great deal of confidence.  (keep in mind that I rarely break – that’s shoot below – 90 for 18 holes)  Soon after that, I found myself struggling.  Mightily.  I’ve had a couple of good rounds, and mind you, I still only play about 18 holes a week, which doesn’t mean I will ever go for my PGA tour card, but I’d like to think I can break 90 regularly if my swing is consistent.

I always tell people that 90 percent of my game is half mental.  That’s a Yogi Berra quote, and it’s funny, but it’s true.  The worst part of my golf game has ALWAYS been my brain.  My body knows exactly what to do, and I’m a better golfer than I believe I am, but my brain refuses to follow along, so I struggle, and it all kinda snowballs, and I end up not having fun at all.

So last night at league, I shot a 57 for nine holes, or 21 over par.  Which means I averaged a little over a double-bogey per hole.  While I did par a hole in the midst of the carnage, I went home doing my best not to be down on myself and basically trying to figure out the root cause of all of this, simply because I KNOW I can play golf pretty darn well, it just hasn’t been happening here lately.

The usual suspects appeared.  Fear of failure.  Fear of rejection (whether my golfing colleagues actually make fun of me or not, there always seems to be a perception in me that they’re not approving of me when I play badly.  In this case, I know perception is not reality, but mostly in my brain, not my heart).  But I believe God took me deeper during my waking moments this morning.  There’s a deep-seated belief in me that I can’t handle failure, or rejection, or in this case, a bad round of golf and the ensuing results from it. 

So, when I’m standing over the ball about to swing, I’m basically thinking, “please don’t screw this up…I can’t handle a bad shot here”, or even “my world will end if I don’t hit this right” (that’s what it feels like).  Basically, it’s a totally negative mind-set rather than the positive one that is needed and really is supposed to be there.  This thinking, as you can imagine, can severely screw up a golf swing.  The body tenses, control is lost, and voila!  bad golf swing, ball goes nowhere good, etc.

In my cocooned existence (which I’ve blogged about before), I guess, along the way, I developed a belief, consciously and subconsciously, that (a) life is always supposed to be rosy, and (b) if it’s not, then I fall apart, and I’m SUPPOSED to fall apart, and go running to mommy to make it all better.  This is not how God raises men.  This is not how men are wired.  This is not how life is supposed to be, nor how we’re supposed to react to it.

Life requires balance.  If life is always rosy and happy, then we become numb and comfortable, and soft (hello…).  If life is constantly filled with pain and hardship, then we become hard and bitter.  And, if we aren’t constantly grasping for material things or status or love or acceptance, and instead “letting the game come to us”, then God will allow the right balance of pain and joy, good times and hard times, to allow us to grow healthy and strong in Him.  Life should never be based on circumstances, nor on our ability to evade them or control them, but instead on God’s love for us and His unconditional acceptance of us.

But worse than this, in my case, is the belief that not only is life supposed to be rosy and free of pain, but I can’t handle it if life is not.  I’ve gotten the first part of this in the past and understood it, as explained in this post,  but never quite got to the second, deeper part.  I’ve been reading in The Way of The Wild Heart by Eldredge that boys and men (especially the group that he calls “unfinished men” – men that have missed the important stages of growing up) need to be initiated; brought into and through situations that will help them grow and learn that they do have what it takes.  It is not enough just to tell them, they/we must learn it for ourselves by doing.  I understand that.  But, if a message of “You can’t handle that” is sown into the heart before the initiation, it’s very much like slapping a person down and then demanding that they rise up.  I’ve seen/used the analogy before of throwing a CD player/boom box to the ground, watching it shatter into many different broken pieces, then demanding that it play music.  It just doesn’t work.

So, I’m not asking for God to simply sow the message of “you have what it takes” into my heart without initiating me in some way.  I believe wholeheartedly that learning is by doing, and confidence comes along with it, and it has nothing to do with success or failure…

“Hmph…Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.”

But, I AM asking Him to remove the lie of “you can’t handle this” before any initiation takes place, which I believe He’s been very patient with me about.  Because, when I’m driven by my fears, I use and twist the good things in my life (a good round of golf, any talent I have as a musician, etc.) from simply good things that He has given me, to things that I use to keep me from suffering and pain and keep me insulated from failure and rejection.  As a result, my life slowly goes out of balance, and my soul and my heart become unhealthy and weak.  As a result of trying to further MY kingdom in this life, I’ve missed HIS and the abundant life that comes along with it.

One final note.  I want to thank livingpalm’s hubby B for some words he gave me a few months ago.  He told me that there’s a difference between WOUNDS and SINS.  What I’m dealing with here is NOT SIN.  It’s a WOUND, or a SERIES of wounds sown by the enemy, my flesh, and the world.  When I’m standing over the golf ball, I’m not wanting to pound my opponent into the ground or pridefully use my success to gloat over others.  I’m desperately, in my heart, wanting to have fun, I just really struggle with it, because I don’t know how, because of all of the reasons stated above.

Father, please continue to father me.  Pour Yourself into me.  I long for the words from You that You love me, You have confidence in me, even when I don’t have any in myself.  Please help me to realize that there are lies from the enemy sown within me, and that I CAN handle whatever You have planned for me, and that I have no reason to make plans for myself to avoid YOUR plans.  Thank You for being You.



  1. much truth here
    i am not a golfer, but i so struggle in many of the same ways (i realized this about myself as i fought through the “struggle” of enjoying my family trip to NYC yesterday and found myself surrounded with beautiful, young, successful-looking women — i felt old and ugly and frumpy) your conclusion about the belief that you won’t be able to handle it hits right close to home. anyway, i’m kind of babbling but i just wanted you to know that i think i “heard’ you and am affirming the direction you are headed with this.
    ps. i also relate well with the analogy of the CD player being thrown to the floor and then demanded to play. what an evil, self-flagellating cycle that can become! for me, it seemed to have started as a wound, but then i picked up the practice against myself and most of the time don’t even know i’m choosing death over life and cursing over blessing.

  2. You are a talented, blessed individual. Find joy and passion doing what your Lord has designed you to have skill in….not so much to impress your earthly friends but for the pure joy it gives Him to see his son bursting with a light that shines within.

  3. Wow, I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t think that God raises just men this way though. As being His child, He gives us His strength to handle the hard times and not back down.

    This is how it works in theory, anyway 😉

  4. “But, I AM asking Him to remove the lie of “you can’t handle this” before any initiation takes place, which I believe He’s been very patient with me about.”

    Something I’ve learned about this: Yes, God has to remove/repair the wound caused by the lie, but you have to choose to renounce the lie itself. Kind of like plucking a thorn out of your toe.

    I treat it like spiritual warfare (because that’s what it is). “In the name of Jesus Christ, I renounce the lie that ___________”

    Repeat as many times as you feel led to.

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