18 Inches

Today’s post comes from Radical Mentoring Executive Director Kevin Harris . . .

I love the game of golf. In fact, I’m writing this while watching The Players Championship. While I enjoy the long drives (especially the cool red line tracking the ball’s trajectory) and the gamesmanship between competitors, I’m most fascinated by the short putts. Those casual tap-ins from a foot or two that seem to drop in the center of the cup without effort.

For casual golfers, those putts are what we call ‘gimmes.’ Rather than force ourselves to make the putt, we have a gentleman’s agreement to pick it up. No sweaty palms, no racing hearts . . . we assume it would go in, so why risk the miss, right? We make the putt in our mind and ignore the emotions of the moment.

Most men, myself included, live their lives this way. We operate from our heads because it feels safe. Instead of opening ourselves up to be fully known, we try to impress people with the things we know, the stuff we have, or the places we’ve been.

We never reveal the feelings of our hearts for fear of being rejected or passed over. We never experience the power of deep friendships because our shame says we won’t be accepted or we’ll be exposed. If we attempt the putt, there’s a chance we’ll miss it . . . and risk being misunderstood or judged. So instead, it becomes our own personal gimme.

I have no idea if C.S. Lewis was a golfer or not, but he knew the power of stepping up to take the putt. I love what he writes in The Four Loves, “All true friendship begins when one person says to another: ‘What! You too?’”

This same idea applies to our marriages. I’ve read all the good marriage books and know all the right things to do to ‘be successful’ at home. Just take a look at my bookshelf . . . Sacred Marriage, Love & Respect, The Meaning of Marriage . . . they’re all there. But they didn’t change me.

Recently, I hadn’t prioritized praying with Susan. Not because I didn’t want to, but out of fear I’d sound stupid or because busy schedules made it hard to find time. After reading those books, I could talk about the importance of praying with my wife, but when it came to doing it, I was failing miserably . . . until last week.

Over coffee with my friend John, the topic of praying with our wives came up and he gave me the most practical and profound advice . . . just do it. On the phone, before bed, in the morning . . .  just take a minute or two and pray. And guess what? I did it, and it’s been a game-changer. I took my head knowledge and connected it with the emotions of my heart. Instead of picking up the ball, I stood over it and made the putt. Turns out, you learn a lot more about yourself that way.

There are only approximately 18 inches from our heads to our hearts. I could have missed a great marriage by 18 inches. Some of you could miss being great dads or great friends by 18 inches. Let’s not live that way. Take a deep breath and make the putt. You won’t regret it.

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