Because par doesn’t always happen

Sometimes life has a way of kicking your tail and reminding you that you need to slow down and take things one step at a time.

And sometimes it happen when a bunch of things hit you all at once.

I played golf for the first time in years over the weekend—and I do mean years. I had told some guys at work that I was the two-time city league champ back in the day, which is true, but I was in the second and third grades when I won those tourneys. And I was the only girl who showed up, so I sort of won by default both years.

You know that saying, “It’s like riding a bike”? I don’t believe golf is like that—at all.

Let’s pretend this was a phenomenal shot.

I think my rustiness was a bit apparent in my re-debut round of golf. Because of the residual effects of my kidney surgery and the ensuing kidney infection, I was only able to make it nine holes, but that duration was plenty.

And it was definitely enough to provide me a few reminders I really needed.

Golf is a game of patience. It’s not like running or soccer or basketball or football with people hustling fast and diving and driving and expending everything they can to win. It’s different. It’s much more of a slow-paced game, and there’s often quite a bit of waiting involved—whether you’re waiting on other people or waiting on yourself. It’s not always easy to wait on things, especially when you want them to happen when you want them to happen. But that’s not how life always goes. Sometimes you simply have to be patient and take life one stroke at a time.

Golf is also a game of adapting. You can pick out where you want your ball to go each time you swing, but it’s not always going to land where you plan. There are a lot of factors that affect where each ball ends up, and you can’t necessarily control all of them—or sometimes any of them. So when you find yourself in the sand or behind a tree, you have to change your original game plan and somehow still make it work. I feel like this is the story of my life lately—and probably the story of a lot of people’s lives. We can plan out as much as we want, but it doesn’t mean those plans are for sure going to happen. We could end up in the water or overshooting the greens. We could end up in situations or places in which we never thought we’d find ourselves and that make us feel pretty close to hopeless. But somehow, someway, we still have to make it work. And somehow, someway, we still have to believe that we can.

And golf is a game of humility. You might think you’re doing alright, and then you hit one into a creek. You might feel like you’re about to master the course, and then you whiff the ball on the tee. You might think you’re about to sink a putt, and then you add another stroke because you failed to factor in the curve and the uphill. You might feel like you’ve chosen the right club, and then you don’t even get it on the green. Life in general can be pretty humbling, too. Just when you think you have it all together, something you weren’t expecting gets thrown your way—and you simply have to deal with it.

There are so many different courses out there. There are so many different shots you hit. There are so many different situations you face. There are so many different people surrounding you.

And there are so many different choices you have to make.

You don’t get many mulligans in life—instead, you have to hit the shot as is and never look back at what could have been or should have been. You might do really well on some holes, and you might have others that seem to blow up in your face. You won’t always have good days, and you might want to throw your clubs at certain points. Some holes will break your heart and leave you feeling like the next one isn’t even worth the effort. But you have to keep playing, and you have to keep swinging.

Because, even when you don’t shoot par, you might end up having one of the best rounds you never knew could exist.

Being patient and not waiting

When you order something online, you often have the option for standard shipping (which will take a bit longer), or you can pay extra and expedite how quickly your item gets to you.

The choice is yours.

I haven’t always been the best when it comes to patience—just ask the University Park red light camera people, and they can back me up on that one. It’s difficult to wait for some things. I know waiting is important sometimes, but patience isn’t only about waiting. People will often throw the quote out to you about it being a virtue and whatnot (whether they always know what that means when they say it is an entirely different conversation), but I also think it’s more than that. I think patience is knowing how to react and respond in a situation when you might want to be rash or explode.

“In honor of my daughter being here today, we’re going to have snack time early.” Genius.

Whenever I think of patience, I think of my mom. I took off work one day last week, and I went to visit her at her school that day. She teaches kindergarten, a job that requires a really special kind of human. Well, my mom is definitely that type of person. As I sat there and watched the way she interacts with her kids and the way they listen to her and how much they respect her, I started to think about how she acts in such a patient manner in every single area of her life, and I couldn’t help but wish that I were more like her in that regard.

When I was a teacher, I learned a lot about patience with other people. I feel that I grew in that area during those seven years of my life, and I am not one to let my temper explode. In fact, it really takes a lot now to get me truly angry, and I’m thankful to my mom and my teaching career for that. But I can’t say that I apply that kind of attitude in every aspect of my life.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says “Patient endurance is what you need now,” and even though it was written to the Hebrews, I like to think I’m meant to read it—because patient endurance is what I need a lot of the time. I think endurance is the perfect word to follow because when you’re in that period of uncertainty, it certainly can feel like a trial you’re having to persevere through for however long it might be. And the whole not-knowing part of it all brings an entirely different element into the patience picture: trust. It’s a time when you have to trust that, even if what you want to happen doesn’t exactly happen, everything will be as it should in the end. It’s kind of like when you’re waiting to hear back from a job or a school to see if you got it or were accepted—you aren’t completely sure of what’s going to happen, but you have to accept the outcome and trust that it’s the right one.

And I think the wisdom gained from patience means knowing when you shouldn’t wait for something. There are some things you simply shouldn’t sit back and expect to come your way without you actually taking leaps of faith toward them. It can be tough to know when to wait and when to jump, but I think there are certain moments when the heart just knows exactly what to do—and you can either follow it or let those chances fade.

I think about Rapunzel in the movie Tangled (yes, I’m comparing parts of real life to a Disney movie) and how she waited in that stupid tower for so many years. But then an opportunity came along for her to escape and find life and love outside of the tower, and she took it because, even though she had some doubts and anxieties, she knew it was absolutely the thing she needed to do to be who she needed to be and to be with her person.

Sometimes you need to sit in a restaurant for a really long time until your steak dinner finally arrives and is delicately placed in front of you. But then there are times when all you really want is a cheeseburger from the drive-thru at Whataburger, which you’ll get a lot faster.

It’s all about knowing in your heart what is right and following it without hesitation.

Some destinations are worth the journeys to get there

I’m not a huge traveler, and I think I’ve figured out why.

The journey to the destination feels like forever.

If I’m being perfectly honest, road trips aren’t really my thing. I guess every once in a while I enjoy them because there sure are a lot of memories you can make if you’re with other people, but I generally don’t jump at the opportunities for them. I’ve driven to Florida and New Mexico multiple times with my family over the years, and each time I was reminded that riding in a car for long periods of time isn’t the most enjoyable way to spend multiple hours of life. Actually, sitting for any extended amount of time is a challenge in itself.

But sometimes those road trips are needed.

A couple of years ago, my sister and I drove to Tennessee. We were both going through some difficult times, and I think we both needed a little getaway. It was a long drive, and we spent more time in the car than at our actual destination, but it’s a trip I’ll never forget for so many reasons.

West Texas rodeo time

Over the weekend, I needed another escape. I think we occasionally simply need to get away from our normal surroundings and routines to clear our minds and be refreshed. On Thanksgiving, I had talked to my cousin Rachel about traveling to visit her and her family in West Texas—when you’re going through the rough stuff, it’s best to be around the people who make you smile as much as possible.

But to get to some of those people, I had a journey to make.

I’m actually glad I went on the weekend I did, because I was able to escape the snow that happened in Dallas on Friday. I don’t like snow in general, but I really don’t like that people in this city act like the world is coming to an end if there’s any frozen precipitation, and traffic becomes an absolute nightmare. Dodged that bullet. I drove through some flurries on the way out west, but it wasn’t too bad.

What was bad was my fatigue.

I was so tired. I usually don’t get enough sleep on weeknights (it’s a horrible reality that I’m trying to work on), so I’m pretty spent on Fridays. During the first almost two hours of the drive, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it without falling asleep at the wheel—there were a few close calls already. But I made a quick pit stop at a high-quality Love’s station to use the restroom and stretch a little, and I was a bit revitalized after that. I put on some tunes for a car concert, so that helped, too.

I knew I was going to have to make one more stop to get gas and because I have a bladder the size of a jelly bean. But the second stop left me in a state of torture. I was on the phone with someone from the government (long story) for way longer than I thought it would take, but I was hoping to wrap things up by the time I finished filling up my car so that I could use the restroom again. (Small bladder and kidney stones magnifying that issue are a bad combination.) I was still waiting in the car for my tank to fill—it was SO cold—and still on the phone, and then I saw a sight I didn’t want to see: a school bus full of kids pull up. Why were they stopping here? It wasn’t a big station, so I’m assuming there was only one stall in the women’s restroom. When the gas was finished, I made a bad decision: I said, “Screw it—I’m leaving.”

And there basically wasn’t anywhere else to stop until I was practically to my cousin’s town.

Family = worth travel time

You know what, though? Somehow I survived, and the entire time in the car getting there was completely worth it. I had such a great weekend with Rachel and her sweet family, and I even took a pretty long nap on Saturday, which I definitely needed. (Rachel even made her two boys stay out of the room where I was so that they wouldn’t wake me. She’s incredible, and she gets it.) She and her husband were so welcoming to me all weekend long, and her two little boys are precious and hilarious—they kept me entertained the entire time.

As I was driving home on Sunday morning, I kept wishing I could snap my fingers like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and be home without having to endure the drive again. But that never happened. I guess that’s just life sometimes—you have to go on journeys that can often be frustrating and painful, but you have to persist through them in order for you to get to where you ultimately want or need to be. Sometimes they take you to new and exciting places, and sometimes they lead you right back home. Sometimes you have people with you, and sometimes you ride solo. Either way, you grow and change along the way and learn things that help you become the person you’re supposed to be.

We’re all going to face challenges in life. There are certainly no guarantees that everything is going to be easy. In fact, it seems like most of the things that are so great and wonderful either take a lot of effort or a lot of patience—or both. But when we last through those journeys, we might just realize that everything we went through was worth every second of the tough times.

And we might also realize that love is strong enough to make you forget about all of that, anyway.