Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From the Sand Trap

Amateur golfers are well acquainted with the Mulligan. Hit a ball into the water, no problem, take a Mulligan, re-tee your ball, no penalty stroke. As a rather bad amateur golfer, the Mulligan is my best friend . . . if the rest of my foursome is merciful enough!

So many of us would like the occasional Mulligan to employ in life--the opportunity to do-over some tough moment or unfortunate circumstance. But, life plays through.

Eighteen months ago, I thought I was driving straight down the fairway, flag in sight, but out of nowhere, it seemed, the deepest and most foreboding sand trap of my life reared its head, and suddenly I went from a good streak to an awful lie.

At such a moment there are two basic courses of action. You can flail away at the ball, hoping to pound that ball out of the sand and straight to the pin, and more than likely drive your ball deeper into the sand. Or, you can take your wedge and simply play for the fairway or green, lying up for a better view on the next shot. I must admit, I've spent much of the past 18 months flailing away at the ball: either to recapture my life as it had been (or, as close in semblance as possible), or out of an in-your-face attitude toward the ones whose foolishness (and sin) forced the sand trap. I should have been playing for the fairway.

Life will not always unfold smoothly. There will be sand traps--resulting from our own foolishness, the actions of others, a combination of the two, or simply because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It helps to know of the sand traps that are ahead, but our forewarning can often be brief.

"Gird up your loins," Peter wrote. Be prepared: the next shot, or series of shots may be tough. Preparation is good; a level head in the midst of the crisis, however, is better. The key to conquering the sand trap is a plan of action--a plan that is not irrational, motivated by unhealthy emotion, but a plan that recognizes the tough spot and knows that the distance ahead cannot be recaptured in one glorious shot . . . the mindset that it will take a series of steps to get back on track.

I'm looking for that next lie; it may only be a few yards from the sand trap, but it will give me a much better position to then shoot for the flag. In fact, I think I have already hit out of the sand trap, but now I'm in the short rough. But, I'll take the short rough over the sand trap any day. Yet, I will not be completely satisfied until I reach the green.

One shot at a time. That's my daily reminder.