Looks can be deceiving. Yesterday I played golf with an older gentleman that I was introduced to by a mutual friend. Physically speaking he can no longer hit the golf ball with a lot of force. He is a little slower in playing the game in general. There were probably players behind us wishing that the old man would speed it up a little. But looks can be deceiving.
The older gentleman’s nephew also joined our group yesterday. He mentioned that his uncle and the senior member of our crew yesterday experienced 5 “hole in one’s” during his adult life. That is really impressive. One “ace” in the game of golf in a lifetime is extraordinary! Five is almost unheard of for an amateur. I was duly impressed.
I was reminded not to let mere appearances cause me to draw premature conclusions. It is tempting just to see an elderly man striving to keep up when he can no longer drill the ball 200 yards down the fairway. If I take the time to listen, I will discover there is far more to his life than what meets the eye. As the conversation continued, I learned more about his life.
I asked him if he was still actively serving a church as a minister. He told me: “I served the same congregation for 31 years. They decided I was too old and my services were no longer needed.” I realize there are multiple facets to that story. I have been around churches for a long time in a professional capacity. But regardless of the extenuating circumstances I still feel empathy for a man who perceives that he has been put out to pasture. As age 50 rapidly approaches for me, I am especially sensitive to his situation! Every church wants a 35 year old with two cute kids and 20 years of experience.
As our time on the golf course continued, my new found friend asked me about a couple in
Lubbock he thought I might know. As it turns out I knew them well. I had to tell him that both of them are deceased now. And I happened to mention that they died within two weeks of each other. His response….He told me: “I understand that totally. I Iost my wife six months ago.”
In my eyes he was not longer an older man that can no longer hit the cover off the golf ball. He is a man that has experienced a lot of pain in life of late. At that point I no longer noticed that he moved a little slower. But I did notice that he can still control the golf ball very well! And I found myself envisioning his life more holistically. Most importantly I walked away from that round of golf much less likely to get frustrated at some old man on the golf course playing in front of me. After all looks can be deceiving.