BY JUDAH SMITH
while back I played in a golf tournament at a local golf course. I had high hopes and expectations for my performance because I’m an optimist, and against all odds I always believe there is a pro golfer inside me who will manifest someday. But I had a terrible game, to put it bluntly, and I was hurting inside. I held myself together for all 18 holes—only because I was playing with legitimate adults. A couple of them knew I was a pastor, unfortunately. So I was like, “Oh wow, a bogey! No big deal. Who cares? Listen to the birds. Look at the blue sky.” It was totally fake. That’s not me at all. Who cares about the birds and the sky? I just bogied for the fourth time, and I wanted to die. Or at least cuss. But I played it off like it was no big deal. “It’s golf. It’s just a game.” Inside I was thinking, No, it’s not just a game! It’s the most important thing in the universe right now! But I didn’t say that. I shot an 88, which is bad for me. I knew that my golfing friends would call me and ask me how I played, and I was embarrassed. But I was still playing it cool. Until I got to my car. My whole family—my wife, Chelsea, and our three kids—was waiting for me inside the vehicle. I got in and shut the door. The first thing my 5-year-old said was, “Hey Dad, how did you do?” That was when I snapped. I lost it. I started punching the dashboard like a loved one had passed away or something. Then between punches I heard my ever-observant 8-year-old say, “Not so good, I guess.” Five minutes later, of course, I was mortified. Shocked by my reactions. Embarrassed by my behavior. Really, Judah? I thought. There is already a 5-year-old in this family, and it’s not you. It was a golf game. Get
some perspective. Have you ever been surprised by your soul? Shocked by your feelings? Stunned by your reactions? Do you know what it’s like when your emotions are so raw and so real? You can’t help yourself. You are in a horrible space, a really low place because what you are experiencing is so tangible to you. The source of pain can be almost anything—a word, an event, a loss, a fear. It can be big or small, momentary or ongoing. I’m using my golf game to make a point, but I certainly don’t mean to gloss over genuine tragedy. My point here isn’t so much what triggered the emotional spiral as what to do about it now. What do you do when your emotions are so out of alignment that you can’t see straight? When your thoughts betray you, accuse you and confuse you? When both the world around you and the world within you are equally devoid of hope and happiness? What do you do when your soul hurts?
OUR EMOTIONS DON’T SURPRISE GOD King David was an emotional kind of guy, too. He was a warrior, he was a king and he was a fighter, but he was also a lover and a poet. He was complicated, just like us. Two of the songs that David wrote—Psalms 42 and 43—are clear examples of the kind of soul turmoil that humans everywhere experience. Notice this refrain, which actually appears three times in the two psalms:
Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5) David is talking to himself, and we get to listen in. He
10/6/16 10:41 AM
Published on Oct 26, 2016