My father began teaching me golf when I was nine. Once he thought I was good enough to get on an actual golf course, he taught me some of the etiquette. Stand still when someone else is hitting. Don’t talk during someone’s swing. Never walk over the line of your playing partner’s putt. Furthest away hits first. Lowest score on a hole has honors on the next one. And always fix your divot!
A divot is made when you go to hit a shot and your club digs into the earth behind the ball, taking a chunk of grass and soil with it. Often it is small, but sometimes the divot is huge and travels farther than the ball (usually not a good sign).
If a divot is not repaired, the grass will die and the spot of the divot will dry up as well. It isn’t good for a golf course. It looks bad and will take a long time to recover.
But if the clump of grass is put back over the divot, it will regrow fairly quickly and soon it will heal over and be as good as new. But as easy as that sounds, many people won’t take the time to simply walk over, pick up their divot and put it back into place.
“Replace your divot” is a good principle for relationships too. Far too often our words or actions hurt others or we are hurt by theirs. Sometimes we are not aware of the hurt immediately (unless we are the one who experienced it). Too often we let the divot sit. We don’t repair it right away. As a result, resentment and bitterness creep in and cause deeper damage than if we had sought reconciliation and repair as soon as we knew there was a problem.
Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
And in Colossians 3 he wrote:
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
Fix your divot! If someone has offended you or hurt you, go to them and gently tell them what happened and how you felt. Focus on the issue, not their character. Avoid saying, “You always…” or “You never…” Lovingly point out what happened and how you feel.
If you are the one who caused offense, ask forgiveness. Go to the person and tell them you are sorry for what happened or what was said. If you feel you’ve been misunderstood, explain what you intended. Hearing why they were hurt or angry may make complete sense and you can affirm that had that been what you meant, you’d be upset too.
The important thing is to repair the relationship. Forgive or ask forgiveness. As much as it depends on you, seek to keep peace. Be willing to be humble and kind and compassionate and gentle and patient. Love well. Not everyone will want to be reconciled. Not everyone will forgive your wrong or ask forgiveness for the wrong they’ve done. That’s ok. As much as it depends on you, do your part. It may not bring the peace you hope for. The other person may cling to their hurt or pride. But your heart will be in line with God’s and that’s a good place to start.
It has been a year since I last posted a blog. It was Father’s Day 2015, and I wrote about the wound so many of us carry around because of difficult relationships with our fathers. I was blessed to have a good and healthy relationship with my father. He wasn’t perfect but in many ways and for many years he was my best friend. Last year on Father’s Day, my father was in the hospital. We thought it was for pneumonia, but after several weeks we discovered he had Stage 4 lung cancer. From the correct diagnosis until his death was only six weeks. August 1, 2015, he passed from this life.
In the time since his death, I have thought about writing many times. I have had ideas come into my head and have even thought about ways to communicate them. Whenever I would sit down to write though, nothing came out. I just couldn’t do it. The more I tried to write, the less I wanted to write. It was like writer’s block on steroids.
I have the feeling that the grieving process is as unique as a finger print. We may all go through the same stages or kinds of things, but each one walks the path differently. For me there was a long period of time when I just didn’t feel like doing anything. I found even the things I normally loved to do lacked their usual enjoyment. I sensed in many ways God’s kindness and loving presence, but I even found it difficult to reestablish my normal routines and rhythms.
It is Father’s Day again. One year since my last blog; one year since my dad’s first hospitalization. So much has happened in that year! Bethany and Joshua got married…Jonathan and I went to Europe…Angie and I celebrated twenty-seven years of marriage…I resigned from my ministry to pursue something new (still pursuing!)…milestones and memories…steps and stumbles…joys and sorrows…So many times I wanted to pick up the phone and call my dad to tell him about it. So many times I heard him say in a choked up voice, “Super, Son!” So many times I wished we had more time and reminded myself we would see one another again.
It’s Father’s Day again. I get to be with Angie and all three of my children as well as my son- and daughter-in-law. Every life has its challenges and its joys. We really never know what tomorrow will bring. Whatever lies ahead, I am thankful for loving parents who instilled in me a love for God and the importance of family. I am thankful for a wife who puts up with my idiosyncrasies and loves me well. I am thankful for my amazing children who make me proud every day not for what they do but for the character and passion with which they do it. I am thankful for my children’s spouses and how I can love them like my own after such a short time. They so complete and complement each other. I am thankful for my mother, who has shown strength and resilience and courage over the past year. I know it hasn’t been easy for her, but I am so proud of her. I am thankful for my sisters and their families. We have learned how to love and lean on one another this past year in ways we have never had to before. And I’m thankful for friends. There are so many people who intentionally and unintentionally were blessings in my life at times I needed it most.