I’d always had a passion to “be the best” at one sport, but I hadn’t been able to because I’d always put time and energy into playing multiple sports.
Toward the end of my freshman year in high school, I started to feel that I couldn’t perform to my fullest potential unless I focused on one sport. After some prayer, I finally chose golf because I had a passion for it, and I knew I could excel at it and make progress throughout my entire life. To make this tough decision, I thought about this quote in a classic article from The Christian Science Journal called “God’s law of adjustment.” It says, “This law of adjustment is the universal law of Love, which bestows its blessings on all alike. It does not take from one and give to another. It does not withhold itself under any circumstances, but is ready and waiting to operate as soon as the invitation is given and human will is set aside” (by Adam H. Dickey, January 1916). This means to me that God’s goodness is always there, always at work and I could never be deprived. I just needed to set aside what I thought should happen and trust God.
Since I made this decision to seriously pursue golf after a full year in high school, I knew I had a lot of work to do to make the high school golf team. My family helped me find a solid golf program that would help me achieve my goals. I started working on improving my game with every spare moment I had. When I first started, I was not performing to my highest potential. But I kept praying for guidance and the wisdom to know how to adjust my approach while practicing and playing in tournaments. Again, I went back to “God’s law of adjustment” to find some ideas to pray with. There was a part of the article that talked about what to do when we find ourselves in situations that seem hopeless. It gave me hope to know that in every case, relying on God, there is a way forward or out.
Over the summer my skills had increasingly become better. My goal was still to make the high school team, but my scores were not good enough yet. When I learned that I didn’t make the team, I was disappointed in myself, but I got over it because I knew I could come back the next year and show the coaches that I belonged on the team. So I continued to pray and know that God was guiding my every step. During the winter, which is the off season, I practiced more and more, and greatly improved. When the snow finally melted off the ground and it was time to go out and play, I was almost prepared to play on the team, but not quite.
God's goodness is always there, always at work.
I remembered what my mom had always said, which was to turn to God, because leaning on the body, on matter or personal strength, to get me through would do me no good. I prayed with the phrase “Let go and let God,” which helped at first, but the golf course still continued to get the better of me. So, one day in Sunday School, I asked, “How do you relate time management and Christian Science?” I was thinking I’d never have enough time to get better at golf and make the team! My teacher shared a few thoughts and he also told me I could feel confident looking back to “God’s law of adjustment” for even more ideas. (As you can probably tell by now, the ideas from this article have been extremely helpful in my life!) Soon, I decided to carry an extra copy of the article in my golf bag at all times and study it when I had free moments.
My goal for the upcoming summer was to decrease my score enough to get accepted on the team the following year. My thought process toward my goal was that it wasn’t me, Parker, trying out for the team with sheer personal effort, but me expressing perfection and a standard of competitive play by reflecting God.
Throughout the summer, I caddied at a local country club to get myself even more familiar with the golf world. At this club, on Monday mornings, the caddies got to play the course for free. One Monday morning, I went out with some fellow caddies to just play a fun round, but also to see what I could shoot on the course. The round went pretty well and there were many laughs among us while we were playing. After totaling up my score, I realized that I had shot 83!
I was so excited, but when I went out to my home course, I had a hard time repeating my good score. Every time I went out, I would come back angry because of shots that didn’t go exactly as planned. When I would hit a bad shot, I’d get a little upset about it because I knew I could do better. So, on the following shots I started thinking: “You don’t have to be frustrated. You are capable!” I had to really believe that God was in control of my life and be open to learn more and be guided. Then, even when a shot was bad, I knew I was growing spiritually and learning something valuable. Putting myself down and getting angry would ruin my game. But changing my thought and listening to God could open up new opportunities.
This isn’t the end of the story. I am still praying for inspiration today. But what I’ve learned so far is that you can apply Christian Science to anything and everything because God is All. Because of this, there are spiritual truths behind everything God made. No detail is left out.
Parker Engel is a junior in high school.
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