Golf + Grit

I fell off the cart so quickly, I barely registered what happened. It was, in many ways, the beginning of the end.

I joined the high school’s golf team on a whim. In truth, it was a calculated whim. I wanted a letterman jacket, and if I could get out of school to ride a golf cart for a few hours, well, why not?

The first thing that struck me about our golf coach was his visor-shaped tan barely brimming the edge of his nose and curving up toward his temples. The man, a faithful golf and football coach, constantly soaked in the Southeast Texas sun.

Learning the game of golf from him was what I imagined learning from my grandfather would be like, of course, if my grandfather knew how to play golf.

Coach was patient, kind and always made sure to ask me if I was having fun. Or, maybe it was just me he checked on. I was, without a shadow of a doubt, the worst player on the team.

Golf was a beautiful game, Coach taught us as much. But somehow and someway, I played the most hideous game. Despite my severe shortcomings, I continued to show up each practice and tournament, perhaps to the chagrin of my teammates.

By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the benefit of many innocent bystanders, it has been years since I’ve attempted a pure game of golf (I’m assuming five-person scramble doesn’t count). Although I’ve yet to master driving or perfect pitching, I’m just now beginning to lean into the most important lesson golf taught me–the gift of showing up for hard things, for things I’m not good at, for things I’d rather not be doing.

I was told again and again that perfecting my swing would come in time and soon turn into muscle memory. Muscle memory, that coveted thing. It never happened for me. Still, I devoted hours after school and on the rare weekend to perfecting my craft, or rather, my attempt at the craft.

It was discouraging and, at times, grueling practice. Honestly, it felt like a waste of my time and effort.

Showing up is easy when we’re good at something or have the hope or promise of success.

But showing up is pretty dang hard when we have no idea what we’re doing or where we want to go.

I’m not sure exactly how or why I stuck it out on the golf team, so I’m sorry to say I don’t have any magical words of advice on how to show up when it’s hard to do so. I just know I made a commitment and I had to see it through. That was enough.

Commitment. Grit. These are lost practices.

We all have spaces that require or call us to show up. Often it’s your family, your community, your vocation. Or maybe it’s an internal call to show up–to show up for yourself, for your dreams, for your life.

Showing up means actively engaging with the circumstances and the people around you. Showing up isn’t passive; you don’t get points for merely being present. It means giving the task at hand your best effort and undivided attention and not stopping until you’re satisfied (notice I said you, not anyone else). The best time to show up is when you feel afraid or inadequate.

There are multiple ways in which we show up. Right now, I’m doing my best to show up every day as the best follower of Jesus, wife, daughter, sister and friend I can be. I’m showing up and taking steps toward my dream job, something I’m so grateful for and also completely scared of.

Regardless of the outcomes, I’m confident part of the fruit of showing up is the little bit of fortitude built each time we forge ahead.

Showing up. Being present. Being all in. Win or lose, rain or shine. You showed up. And it matters.