It looked like Jordan Spieth was a lock at the Masters. Winning the biggest golf tournament of the year is an accomplishment for anyone, let alone back-to-back wins for a 22 year-old.
But it wasn’t meant to be. In just 45 minutes, his five shot lead evaporated as he made one mistake after another. The CNN headline asked if it was the ultimate choke.
Team Spieth has been devastated but undaunted. Caddie Michael Greller summed it up: “A wise coach reminded me recently, winning shows your character and losing shows ALL your character. Jordan continues to model grace and humility through wins and especially losses.”
We go through all kinds of pain in life. Some people will suffer the unexpected loss of a loved one. Others will go through crushing professional setbacks, just like Jordan Spieth. In the April series, Transformers, we’re talking about confronting our shadow side, and that includes heartaches we often don’t want to face.
Horse trainer Buck Brannaman knows a lot about pain. You probably know Buck as the inspiration for Robert Redford’s character in the movie, “The Horse Whisperer.” Historically training was known as “breaking horses”, meaning that breaking their spirit was part of making them ridable.
Buck has become a leader in “natural horsemanship”, a methodology based on mutual respect. The trainer invests hour upon hour with the horse, learning their nature and finding ways to successfully communicate with them. Buck insists he isn’t there to help people with horse problems. He jokes, “I help horses with people problems.”
He’s especially gifted with troubled horses. Owners occasionally confess that their horse has bitten or attacked them. In spite of the bad behavior that’s brought a horse and its owner to his clinic, Buck is empathetic. “When working with a horse, particularly a troubled horse, you’ll notice that he will spend a good portion of his time avoiding contact, physical and mental.”
Buck’s work is more than groundbreaking; it’s incredibly personal. The professional acclaim he and his brother found as trick ropers didn’t make up for their home environment. Their father, always a rager, became uncontrollable once their mother passed. In the documentary, “Buck”, Brannaman talks extensively about the abuse that led to permanent foster care by junior high, quietly remembering, “When something is scared for its life, I understand that.”
Many people would leap to forget a past like Buck’s. Instead, he’s built on these moments. He said, “In life, we don’t know why things happen. I believe God is not responsible for the bad things that happen to you. Sometimes I think He’s responsible for the good things, but sometimes it’s something you shape up for yourself…They say nerves heal real slowly. Lots of things about us heal real slowly.”
You may feel so wounded that you’ve lost your bearings. This is the week to shape a new future for yourself. Rather than dwelling in pain, begin to transform sorrow into emotional depth and strength of heart. With all your heart, say, “No more. Never again.” You can even decide to keep your spirit open to Good, just like Buck. Healing slowly is still healing.