True confession time: I embarrassed myself in a golf tournament in 2011.
Here is how that went down. I have won a few local tournaments - to be honest, this reflects on the fact that there was little competition, not that I am proficient.
So when I arrive at a Saturday nine hole tournament, club hosts build me up to those that have enrolled. They tell stories and paint a picture of someone other than me. And I now had to I have to live up to some artificial standard. And that freaked me out. And then I had to somehow become master of my fears.
The short of the story, I never regained composer. Twice I put successive balls into a creek. Off a drive I hit a tree and he ball landed somewhere 40 yards behind me in the woods. It was a complete disaster.
Because I play that poorly? No, not as bad as on that day. I was simply unable to control my emotions - that was the reason. And the mental part of my game controlled the physical mechanics of shot control.
As a pastor studying patterns in people, this is something that I observe again and again. Husbands and wives face pain, humiliation, embarrassment, shame and rather than make good, healthy decisions, normal action is almost nowhere to be found. Hitting their internal panic button, their situation is often negatively compounded simply due to emotional pressure. And the consequences are much dire than going home without a trophy.
Leaders who face the pressure of taking risks, puff up with all kinds of authoritative positioning. Investors bail at the wrong time. Drivers freak out when someone honks behind them. Students experience mental block on their finals.
1. Some days will be like that. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Shank a golf shot. Laugh at yourself rather than allow the frustration to rise due to an unhealthy and unrealistic expectation of perfection.
2. Stand still and know that I am God. That is what Moses was told to do as the people of Israel left Egypt and found themselves at the banks of the Red Sea with pharaoh and his armies bearing down on them. Situations arise so that we clearly see, we are not alone - and He is more than able to cope. Don't hit the panic button, rather look to Jesus.
3. Shame and rejection. Could it be that an unhealthy desire to be liked, to receive the approval of people drives a need to prevent any form of external imperfection? You have already been accepted by Christ, who knows you better than any other.
4. Inability to cope with consequences. What is the worst that would happen should your fears come to pass? What if he did leave you? What if you did lose the house? What if you did change employers? Would it be the end of the world? Most likely you would find strength to cope with the outcome. The apostle Paul said: I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
No, I did not sell my clubs. Nor throw them in the creek. I was motivated to renew my dedication to analysis and practice and have lowered my total strokes over the course by 7 per round. Hopefully I can now just find the time to enter a tournament this summer.