Links Daily Devotional

Deep Feelings

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. (Psalm 31:9, ESV)

In early August of 1998, the du Maurier Classic was my second tournament back after the abrupt call and my sister’s voice saying, “Mom’s gone.” Late in the second round, I was fighting to make the cut when my sorrow erupted unexpectedly from deep in my heart. As I walked down the left rough, tears began dripping off my face. I had only moments to contain and swallow my grief before my caddie and playing partners noticed. At the same time my internal voice screamed at me to get my head back in the game.

The ropes you see at a professional tournament function as a barrier between the spectators and the players. They also serve as a symbolic boundary professionals use, leaving our struggles and problems outside the ropes and bringing only the mental focus needed to compete and win inside the ropes. I bought into this belief and worked hard to detach myself from the impact of what was happening in my life—loss, trauma, disappointment, heartache, worry, pain—while inside the ropes. I wasn’t always successful, as seen in this confession of my tearful breakdown.

Like King David, I am crying out to my Lord and giving myself permission to grieve with my whole being and releasing the burden of feeling I need to perform at my best at all times.The issue is not that I failed leaving my problems outside the ropes; how I responded to my perceived failure(s) is what was harmful. I routinely thrashed myself with hateful and angry words for not being mentally stronger and competitive. I doubted if I had what it takes to win. I punished myself by beating range balls until exhaustion set in. All of this unkindness toward myself followed me away from the course as well, making me an unpleasant person during these rants.

The Lord does give us the ability to develop a stronger mental focus in whatever we put our hand to: sports, business, parenting, ministry, music, education, Bible study, etc. But he has also commanded us to love with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (Matthew 22:37). If this is true, then fully disconnecting what our body and soul are feeling from the tasks we are trying to accomplish is impossible under a healthy state of mind.

Grief is one of many emotions that impact the deepest places of our heart. In today’s verse, King David lamented about how his eye (presence), body and soul were wasting away because of grief. If our physical body alone is directly impacted by deep sorrow, our performance will also be impacted regardless of our mental strength. My tears in Canada betrayed my best efforts to disconnect from the sadness my heart and soul were still feeling over my loss. I did make the cut, barely, but I wasn’t playing within my peak performance.

I wish I could say that my first instinct is to cry out to the Lord each time I have experienced grief due to sudden loss, but it’s not. My default is to shut down and go numb because that is what helped me survive inside the ropes. Today, I am choosing to not be confined by any ropes. Like King David, I am crying out to my Lord and giving myself permission to grieve with my whole being and releasing the burden of feeling I need to perform at my best at all times.

Some days a poor outcome has nothing to do with our physical skills or talents. When heartache, sorrow, pain, and distress weigh our hearts down, we have a merciful and gracious God who waits for our lament, a much better option than suppressing our grief.

Tracy Hanson
October 29, 2015
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