Saturday, June 13, 2009

Loser Guy

This is my wife. She’s grinning sheepishly because she just killed me in putt-putt golf. She wanted to look triumphant (which she did about five minutes later) but, at this particular time, she was being kind. Only 90 minutes earlier I remember proclaiming that she ‘stood no chance’ against me. She was a miniature golf novice. I was an accomplished practitioner of the art of artificial surface putting. And then she ‘smoked me’.

A few days ago I wrote about being dumped into some white water not once but twice. This was a river that I had navigated successfully just a few short years earlier.

So, here I was licking my wounds not once but twice.

OK. OK. You’re right. Losing in putt-putt and getting river dumped is no big deal. And yet, for a short period of time I felt something ‘ugly’ happening in me. You see, I really like to win. I like to beat rivers and have the lowest miniature golf score. I didn’t. I didn’t beat the river and Anita turned out to be the Tiger Woods of putt-putt. But I felt this ‘ugliness’ inside of me. Whenever I sense it I want to know what it’s all about. Ugly doesn’t help me to become all that God wants me to be. In fact, if it isn’t confronted (even in its teeniest manifestation) it gives root to something potentially bigger.

The shorthand version is that goals I had established got blocked. One goal was to stay dry and look good in front of a bunch of guys. The other goal was to ‘win big’ at The Red Putter. Murph had to deal with these blocked goals. What Murph would show up? The 'child' or the 'adult'?

The ‘childhood’ version of Murph makes staying dry, looking good, and winning, pretty big priorities. The adult version of Murph can laugh it all off. So, why does the ‘child’ still show up and why does that version of me still lay claim to so much of my life?

Maybe God uses times like this to humble me. It’s His easy way of letting me know that I’m getting a little too big for my britches. It’s His reminder that I’ve still got some growing up to do. God knows me well enough that I won’t brush ‘the ugly’ away. He knows there’s a bigger dream and purpose in my heart. That dream will never be fulfilled unless I deal with the little things. Wasn’t it Stephen Covey who said ‘the little things are the big things’?

When the ‘child Murph’ shows up God graciously gives the ‘Murph of adulthood’ an opportunity to stand up and be counted. My choice is to recognize the choice before me.

Life is lived in the ordinary experiences of life. It’s in and through the ordinary that things like ego, pride, mean-spiritedness and selfishness reveal themselves. It’s also in and through the ordinary that things like love, peace, patience and self-control stand in opposition to those things that have the potential to tear us down. Which wins out?

I’ve chosen to confront the ugly and give birth to the beautiful. Some days I do a better job of it than others. My deepest desire, my fervent hope is that I can be attentive in the moment to the simple choices that end up defining a life. It’s what helps me to live in the ‘Spirit’and not give in to the 'sin that so easily entagles' us all.

I'm fine. Adult Murph has won out. I will, however, start private miniature golf lessons tomorrow. I can handle being dumped in the river. Losing at putt-putt is another story. Watch out, Anita, a rematch is in your future.

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