I’m not much of an athlete, or one for competitive sports in general. I don’t mind athletic activities or sports that are just for fun (no points) like swimming, hiking, cycling, scuba diving. When and if I exercise (you know, like on purpose) I prefer the stretching and balancing kind; think yoga, Pilates or big stretches when you wake up in the morning, or reach for the coffee cup on the just-a-bit-too-high shelf. It all counts in my book. I like to go out on the trails near our home and ride our bicycles down by the river with a friend, or go for a nice long walk in the evening, holding hands with my love. All in all, I’m not that sporty.

I remember this one time as teenager when a few of my friends and I went mini golfing together. Of course, at the time there was a particularly athletic guy I was trying to impress, and in an effort to do so, at a random hole I boldly declared, “Okay, this is my hole in one!” then simply took the swing. No walking around, or looking down the length of my putter; no effort was taken to set up the swing. And what do you know? Hole in one! There were high-fives all around, lots of smiles and laughter. I felt the approval of all eyes on me, “It’s more than the hole in one, it’s the fact that you called it!” We high-fived again. It was a great victory. The next few holes were obviously less impressive but still enjoyable after that significant win.

There have been more holes-in-one, more hits and misses over the many years since then. I said goodbye to the high school athlete and hello to many new friends, travels and experiences. And eventually I met a handsome Canadian young man in Bible College who told me he wanted to be a pastor and that he wanted me to be his wife. Our first kiss was in a spring rain shower at an antique carousel (by the deluxe miniature golf course). We still like to play miniature golf. It’s something we get to enjoy together as a family; where all skill levels are welcome.

There have been many more similar outings over the course of my life from exotic miniature golf courses with fast flowing streams, high waterfalls, lush landscaping, coves and lots of colorful moving parts to the local family fun park with a small mini putt that shows some wear and tear in real need of a hug from a hammer and a paint brush.

I am no longer a teenager and I know that I shouldn’t be trying to impress anyone anymore. But still I try. Why?

I grew up, got married, had a couple kids. I’m no longer looking to find love or approval from tall skinny boys. I have love from my husband and children to spare. My cup is full; it runs over. But sometimes I still feel like my life, my looks, my acquisitions or my accomplishments should be more impressive. I fall into the tricky trap of thinking I should do more, or be more or at least try harder. The need to improve on what God has already said “is very good” is sadly subtle.

Here’s what I’m learning: God’s love is sometimes hard to receive. It shouldn’t be, but we make it so.

I’m trying to not try so hard, and instead I’m learning how to live loved. I invite you to join me.

I’m learning to lean into God’s amazing grace, and accept His love and favor. It’s more than just the words of an old hymn or a great slogan. It’s real and it makes all the difference in the world to how we live our lives.

Here’s the thing. I’ve discovered it’s like this, God’s grace is like a mulligan. It’s a divine do-over where the points, efforts, accomplishments or mistakes, plus or minus, don’t affect our score. Because Jesus, by his ultimate sacrifice has already “called it” when he changed the score card once and for all, for all who believe. But we have to believe it to receive it.

My prayer is to be able to honestly say, “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

We don’t have to win His approval and in His eyes there is only love for us, based on HIS complete and total victory.

And that, my friends is a game changer.

© Una-Melina  2014.