Struggle, In Perspective
by Doug Prusak
I’ve heard it said that golf is like life. They both deal you good and bad breaks. You’re supposed to have faith in your swing, and you should have faith in God’s plan for your life. You’re supposed to play the ball as you find it, and you deal with life as it comes. That having been said, there are days on the course that I think golf is more complicated than life. I thought that was the case today.
It was the first tournament of the new season. It was blustery and cold. Not optimal conditions for playing well. When the wind is at your back, the game seems easy and the low numbers come quickly. When the wind is in your face, it seems easier to make a mess of a hole and suddenly the numbers on the scorecard head in the wrong direction. The wind blew both ways today.
I’d done all of my usual pre-tournament practice and preparations, and was excited to get going. I started well, but soon made a flaming hot mess of some others. There were some really good shots and a few others balls that went so far into the woods my dog wouldn’t have been able to find them even if they were wrapped in bacon.
I struggled mightily with the wind, some swing flaws, and some tough breaks but managed to scrape up a second place finish. The drive home started with the “what-could’ve-beens” and “if-onlys” on the bad drives and missed putts that kept me out of first place.
On the way home I pulled up to an intersection in an industrial area, where suddenly my struggles seemed pretty minor. Orange barrel season comes early in Florida. The road was well under repair, detour signs everywhere, traffic was creeping along slowly if at all, and drivers were lane slaloming to beat the next light.
A woman stood on the median, pacing slowly through the stalled traffic. She wore layers upon layers of torn and filthy clothes, her hair was wiry and dirty, her skin was brown and weathered. She was also holding a small cardboard sign with the crudely written and misspelled words “Homeless, hungry, disabled, veteran.” The four words were stacked on top of each other.
Unfortunately, sightings of people like this have become far too commonplace. I admit to having developed a cynical streak at times when seeing folks like this. Apparently my fellow humans did as well, as no one was reaching out to help her.
My cynicism quickly disappeared as I realized she was crying. There was a level of desperation in her eyes and the lines on her face that went far beyond the other folks I’d seen asking for money in busy intersections. The wind clearly hadn’t been at this woman’s back for a long time. As a matter of fact, I’d say she’d faced a serious headwind for quite awhile.
I waved her over to my car and rolled down the window. The exchange was quick. The light had changed and traffic started creeping forward. I handed her one of the spiritual cards I carry with me and some of the prize money from earlier. We made eye contact and all I had time to say was “God bless you.” I wanted to pull over and pray with her, but the flow of traffic wasn’t having it. I did pray for her, that she would read the card and turn to God for help as the Bible calls us to do in Psalm 34:17 “when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
Troubles that were a lot more serious than a mis-hit golf ball.