By Jeff Becraft
If there was ever a sport or an activity where one needed grace, golf would be it.
Although there is debate as to whether he was the originator of this statement, it is popularly attributed to Mark Twain: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Well… one way you could get around this is simply ride in a cart. Maybe that is where the idea for golf carts came from.
I have played sports all my life, not that I am great in any of them. If it had a ball, I played it. If it didn’t have a ball, well, I wasn’t very good at those. I am not a good swimmer and I am not a good wrestler. Running? I run if I am chasing a ball or someone is chasing me.
Golf is the most difficult sport I have ever played. You can hit a great shot one moment (and this is what keeps people coming back) and then the next moment, you can drill somebody’s house (which is considered a badge of honor in the Becraft family tree).
I don’t get to play very often but I like being outside, you usually play with people you like, it is beautiful scenery, and I like to compete.
It is a game, though, that I have said you shouldn’t take too seriously. But that is not true for many… or sometimes even myself.
When I was younger, and I was getting better, I was on the brink of breaking 90. Each time I went out, that was my goal – to break 90. That was the expectation in my mind and in my heart. Each time, things didn’t go according to plan, and I would finish the round frustrated and deflated.
Now… aren’t you supposed to play a sport or game or activity to feel refreshed? Isn’t there some sort of enjoyment in it? Isn’t recreation supposed to be a re-creating experience?
That wasn’t happening for me… I was bothered, disappointed, and dejected.
But still, each time I went out, the goal and the expectation were still the same – to break 90.
So the next time I went out, I started off with a 7 on each of the first three holes. Twenty-one after just 3 holes. And one of those holes is a par 3. You have to try to get a 7 to get that kind of a score on a par 3.
Heading to the fourth hole, you can guess it… my hope and heart and soul were crushed.
To make a long story long, I finished that day with an 87. So what happened? Well, you’ll have to find someone smarter than me to explain all that but somewhere on hole number four, I let go.
I let go of the expectations and the pressure I was putting on myself and went back to enjoying each moment – being outside, being with people I liked, enjoying the beauty of the scenery… and still getting to play. And that fueled my performance… and enjoyment… rather than hindering it.
Grace is unmerited favor or mercy. There are times in life when our expectations or demands we have don’t work out. We need grace. And we need to show grace to others at those times. And while we are at it, we need to look in the mirror and recognize that we are a person. We also need to receive grace. There are times when the expectations and demands and pressures we put on ourselves is crippling our lives… rather than fueling it.
Jeff Becraft is the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].