Before I start today’s message I am excited that later today Donna and I will get to see Avengers: Endgame. I promise no spoilers in my next message.
Now for today’s message.
I play golf in a league on Monday (9 holes) and a full game (18 holes) on Wednesday. I get to play with the same guys on both days. I too often get really angry with myself when I screw up a shot (or maybe more like two or three in a row) and would like to say that this explosive anger I demonstrate is not typical for me in the other areas of my life. Normally, I am pretty patient with most things. Golf, however, gets under my skin in an instant, and before I know it I am thrown out of the cart, and my evil, twin brother Skippy takes over my game.
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Shaul (Paul) tells us in Ephesians 4:26 that we should not sin in our anger. The anger he is talking about is not being pissed off when I follow a great drive with a duffed chip. That is not the kind of anger that Shaul was talking about; however, that doesn’t justify throwing a club, or (what I have forced myself to do instead of throwing the club) wham my golf bag with the club.
Yesterday I bought some cookies and placed them in a pocket of my golf bag for the turn-around. During the front nine, I got angry at messing up and swatted my bag a few times. When I went to eat the cookies, I discovered that I had smashed the cookies and now had a bag full of crumbs. Karma.
I have prayed, really I have, asking God to help me to take away this stupid, energy-wasting anger, but he hasn’t really done anything. Not that he should, because this is something that I do and therefore is something I need to stop doing. My golf buddies understand, and they are all much better at maintaining their composure than I am. That just makes me feel even worse about myself.
So why do I get so mad when the way I am playing golf is the way I should be playing golf? I mean, really- I am not on the PGA tour and never will be. I am a Bogie-plus golfer (that means I will normally score one or two strokes over the par for a hole), so my normal score for 18 holes is in the mid-nineties. Most of the time I will get mad, then relax, then get mad, then relax and do this during the game, and at the end find out my score was what it should be after 18 holes. It then I have to ask myself: what did I get so mad about? I played my normal game!
Here is where God helps me: he uses that still, quiet voice talking to me in the back of my head telling me the reason I get mad is that I am prideful. I think I should be a better golfer than I am, and I know I can be, so when I am not doing as well as I think I should, my pridefulness takes over and I get frustrated (at myself) and that results in anger.
Right now my friend Frank is bobbing his head up and down in agreement with me (aren’t you, Frank?)
So, nu? Now that I know what the problem is, I should be able to fix it, right? WRONG!!
Knowing what is wrong is a good start, but that is all it is- a good start. I know where to begin walking humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), but how far can I walk humbly before I backslide? With people I can go miles and miles…with golf, not much past the third hole!
Here’s the worst part…I know it is only a game! My life will not change if I score over 100, or if I score under 90. I’m sure if I don’t get mad my friends will feel less intimidated and I will feel much better if only I can get a handle on this anger thing. I do NOT want to manage it- I want it to go away, completely!
I always pray for self-control, and God keeps telling me this is something I need to learn on my own. I understand that- it isn’t that God isn’t willing to help me, but he won’t do it for me. God has taught me that I must find the strength to overcome my sinfulness, and I can do that by calling on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) NOT to change me, but to remind me I need to change and to warn me when I start to wander off the path of righteousness.
It all comes down to Free Will- our God-given right to choose. I can choose to get mad or I can choose not to get mad. God leads me, he shows me the way, he tells me how to act and instructs me what to do. But in the end, I am responsible for my actions and that is why God will not control me. The same goes for you.
Our God is a God of action: he wants us to walk with him not sit around waiting for him to do it for us. If I want to be less prideful I need to walk in humility- I need to keep myself in check, and I need to remember to work on it. God will help me by reminding me, by having people in my life help me, and by letting me screw up and embarrass myself so (maybe) I will think twice the next time before I do the same, stupid thing again.
I don’t think I am the only person with trouble managing anger in one way or another, and I am thankful that I lose control mostly only with my golf game. But that is no excuse to allow it to continue.
What makes you angry? Is it godly or is it prideful? We all, each of us, need to ask ourselves this question when we feel the rage starting; and then we must try to stop it before it is noticeable. This is what I have to do more earnestly for myself, and I will still pray for God to help me.
It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just don’t get mad. If only it was really that easy.
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I welcome comments, suggestions, and even disagreements- all I ask is that you be nice.
L’hitaot and Baruch HaShem!