I was on the golf course with my rival, frantically fighting to keep my score. His cheeky, smug face was continually distracting me as he moved casually around at every tee box. My game had become erratic, my divots and unintentional slicing, scarring the turf. I knew this game could only be won if I settled my mind. My younger brother knew precisely how to upset me and throw my game with his subtle mental gymnastics, not that he would admit that.
As I fought my way out of a bunker, sand swirling in the air, I muttered, ‘get your head in the game. Phil.’
Isn’t life like this? Our unsettled minds are throwing us off in every direction. What makes all the difference is what we fix our mind on and how we think, we have the ability and responsibility to focus well.
I am reminded of the book, ‘the Inner Game of Tennis’ (1974). I consumed it as a young and avid sportsman; author Gallwey wrote, “every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.” The outer is the world around us and our opponent. The inner is that which we focus on, our self-doubt, insecurity, and our fear. It is what we dwell on and think about that makes the difference.
Our faith is enhanced or hindered by the things we think about.
I refer to the mind as an all-encompassing term for spirit, soul, and heart, as Proverbs 23:7 says, “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” The ancient Israelites knew that the greatest freedom we have as people of faith is the ability and the responsibility to choose what we will allow our minds to dwell upon. Old memories, frustrations, negativity, fear and unforgiveness are idea systems that can hold us back. Ideas change us and transform our lives. I have found the antidote to negative thinking is far more than positive thinking; it is replacing the thought by looking at God through the truth of the scriptures. This will lead the mind to dwell on peace and draw out the poison of self-obsession and focus our thinking on the inner game of faith. As St Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Inspiring words that encourage me to choose when I am trapped in the hazards of life, bunkers, and water. Making a choice to behold God in the situation, welcoming His love.
As I have practiced this over the years, I find my mind transformed.
As for my golf game, my brother still wins.