The fall from grace is steep and swift, and when you land, it does not make a sound, because you are alone. Cari Williams
Tiger Woods is attempting a comeback – both to golf and to grace, I suppose.
Only a few months after his public apology, Tiger will be teeing it up at the Masters Golf Tournament. Perhaps no other celebrity has fallen so hard or so fast. Because his personal tragedy was of his own doing, there is probably little sympathy that corporate sponsors have bailed and some believe his super-star status will be tarnished forever.
Regardless if you think Tiger has been punished too much or too little, most would agree his fall from grace has been spectacular. And no matter your point-of-view, you can benefit from Tiger’s mega-celebrity status because you have the opportunity to see how a life once filled with so much promise can implode in an instant. More than that, you can learn how to avoid your own fall from grace when temptation is encouraging you to take a bite, too:
- Acknowledge what tempts you most.
Somewhere in the darkest part of your soul lives the thoughts you try to keep from seeing the light of day. These thoughts are what you sometimes ignore, or even deny, but they are a part of you just like the color of your eyes. Recognize these temptations and their potential to influence your judgment. Realize your greatest influence over these thoughts is in your acknowledgment of them.
- Appreciate what you have.
What you have today can be lost by tomorrow. One bad decision; one lapse in judgment can change everything. Your life may not be perfect, but at least it’s a life you can work on each day. By succumbing to temptation, you are jeopardizing the opportunity to give yourself, and your life, a fighting chance to be what you want it to be.
- Understand the double-edged nature of Free Will.
Free Will provides the freedom to do what you want with your life; it also provides the means to really screw things up. Free Will makes you uniquely human and allows the opportunity to make decisions based on how you want to live; it can also cause you to fall and to fall hard. Bad things happen when the decisions are poor ones. Free Will is a gift intended to empower you – use its power wisely.
- Don’t trust in your strength to resist.
In the right circumstance, with just the right influencers, and at the perfect moment, your ability to resist temptation may not exist. Resistance is best built around knowing what to avoid and when to avoid it. Build your strength by becoming more aware of the type of Kryptonite that lives in your soul.
- Seek help.
The enemy of your soul is not alone is his assault. He is armed with the knowledge of what has caused pain in the past and how fragile your self-confidence can be. Even the playing field by asking for help. Ask a friend to be an accountability partner, seek spiritual advice, or talk with someone who is trained to provide guidance. You are not alone. Reach out and allow yourself to receive strength from others.
- Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want someone to know about.
A reliable test to determine if you should refrain from a particular act is to project how someone close to you would react if the incident became known to them. If the answer is unfavorable, then you have the answer.
- Temptation happens incrementally.
A fall from grace doesn’t happen in an instance. It is a gradual and sometimes methodical process. Temptation begins with thoughts and then moves to one destructive behavior building upon another until the ante is raised to the point of no return.
Don’t ignore the thoughts as they enter your mind. They are early-warning signs that need to be recognized and then managed using the positive resources around you.
- Forgiveness does not restore the status quo.
Tiger Wood’s may be forgiven, but that doesn’t necessarily mean his lost sponsors will want him back. Forgiveness does not imply an automatic restoration of privileges and way of life.
Most people provide forgiveness whey they have been hurt, and a small percentage allow the offender the opportunity to resume the status quo afterwards. Think before you act and determine how meaningful the status quo is – even in the presence of forgiveness.
A return to grace
Next month the world will witness Tiger’s comeback. His swing may be rusty, his putting not as crisp and his ability to focus, compete and win could be a little shaky. But, at least he will be trying to reinvent himself and start over.
Tiger Woods’ return might be best measured not by his score at the Masters, but by his acts of contrition and humility. Tiger can’t undo the past, but he can continue to ask for forgiveness and promise himself, his family and his God to sin no more.
Perhaps what we can learn most from Tiger is how to avoid a similar fall from grace so we can save ourselves and our families from similar pain. So, I will be rooting for Tiger next month not because I condone what it did, but because he is trying to restore grace.
Time will tell for Tiger and for the rest of us, too.
Be sure to catch my interview at BlogCastFM. Find out how I got started in blogging, my short-term and long-term goals for The BridgeMaker and how I draw the fine line between being transparent and overly personal. Click here to listen to the interview.
Special thanks to Srinivas Rao of BlogCastFM for interviewing me.
Image courtesy of Anthony Bellemare