Monday, December 14, 2009

My thoughts on Tiger Woods

What’s abnormal is the dysfunction; what’s wide of God’s mark are the other 360-plus days; what’s uncalled for is this broken world’s unrelenting pain - "In My heart I Carry A Star" - page 144

For the past week or so I've sat on the sidelines and listened to much of the lip-flapping that's been going on in response to the Tiger Woods meltdown. It's all been very sad, and I really haven't wanted to add any more attention to what has become a kind of rubbernecking situation intermingled with tabloid-level voyeurism; like there's been this horrible wreck, and everything comes to a standstill while onlookers gawk at the unfolding tragedy.

But this weekend I read an article that made me want to comment. First, though, let me outline my qualifications to speak at all:
  1. I've been a fan of Tiger Woods for many years. I probably like Phil Mickelson a lot more, but when Tiger's on the course I want him to win; simple as that.
  2. My morality is based on a response to justice and love; not fear or guilt.
  3. I'm more interested in redemption than judgment.
  4. I've been writing social commentary for years; I believe I understand this culture.
  5. I'm actually a decent golfer.
Anyway, the article that has motivated me - it was by some sportswriter - made me realize I really do have something useful to say. He suggested - and I've heard variations of this idea from several sportswriters - that Tiger should stop pretending, stop cultivating some "image", and embrace his true character.

"Don't apologize," the writer suggested: "When you throw clubs; that's the real you; when you curse on the course, that's just who you are; you shouldn't have backed down from those dirty jokes you told, you were just being yourself; so what if you cheat on your wife and like to play around? it doesn't help anything to pretend anything different..." blah, blah, blah, blah.

My wife, Rebekah, made a great observation this summer. She'd been watching some tournaments on TV with me and noticed Tiger's demeanor was exceptionally sour and getting worse.

"Tiger Woods isn't enjoying any of this," she said. "I wonder what's going on in his life that's got him so tense and short-tempered. I hope everything's Okay...."

Bingo! There was dissonance written all over the man. Incongruence; war; turmoil, angst. It doesn't matter how rich you are - One Billion Dollars! You can have a beautiful spouse and precious children. Fame - respect - adoration? It's all pretty much worthless.

I work hard and earn less than $15,000 a year. But I am so unbelievably rich! I have wealth and abundance I can't begin to calculate! I am full to overflowing!
  • Okay, so here's one of the big lies. The big lie is that personal indulgence is the road to satisfaction.
  • Here's another one: "Tiger Woods needs to come to terms with the fact that he's a cad and he should simply offer 'the finger' to the moralistic world and get back to enjoying himself."
That is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! "Selfish" and "controlling"and "unhappy" and "petulant" don't add up to the "real" Tiger. The real Tiger is still waiting for a little help to be unearthed.

Have you ever observed the shift in reality that occurs around the last few days and counting before Christmas? You know how it goes: otherwise dark people begin to light up from the inside. Something changes, something fundamental, and even confirmed Scrooges are seen to smile, wave, and hold the door for strangers.

“He’s caught the Christmas Spirit,” people will say. Or, “Too bad she’s not really this nice.” And, “Enjoy it while it lasts; in a couple of days he’ll be back to normal.”

But here’s what I think (and this is what Tiger Woods needs to understand); the goodwill, and the pleasantry, and the gentle light shining from deep inside these folk is nothing short of 100 percent natural. What’s abnormal is the dysfunction; what’s wide of God’s mark are the other 360-plus days; what’s uncalled for is this broken world’s unrelenting pain. - (Adapted from Epilogue; "In My Heart I Carry A Star", p 144)

Following Jesus is actually a return to normalcy - the normal we were designed for; the intention behind our creation in the first place.

The writer who suggested Tiger should embrace his inner sinner (my words!) is 100% off target. We were created for relationship with God. "Goodness" turns out to be 100% natural. That's why the dissonance hurts so much.

I'm praying that Tiger extends his future beyond image and into the possibility of real redemption.


Jesse said...

That's a good one, and one I wish Tiger Woods could have read. (Who knows, maybe he will... somehow.) I began sensing something wrong with the commentary I was reading, but couldn't articulate it. You've done a good job on that. Thanks.

Susan said...

I agree with you Derek---except that it is not “normal” to be a true follower of Jesus in this world---it is exactly the opposite! But all the more reason to know that God loves us so much and that He is ready and willing to forgive…but we have to want it, ask for it, be ready to live it. God is all about second chances. That’s the message I hope Tiger and his wife hear.