Fortitude and the U.S. Open

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

There's an old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

This was exemplified earlier this week when Tiger Woods won the US Open Golf Championship, his 14th major championship. Because he'd had knee surgery, he hadn't had tournament play or even much practice in two months. During the US Open he struggled, often limping, but his indomitable spirit of never giving up sustained him, bringing him to victory in a playoff. When asked afterward if he'd been tempted to give up, he replied, "You just deal with it, giving it your best, no excuses, whether 100 percent or not, it's just get up and go. I wasn't going to bag it. It's not my nature to give up."

What a wonderful example. Most everyone has been tempted to give up with thoughts such as "I'm not good enough," "I don't know enough," "I'm not strong enough," "I'm sick," or "This is too big for me to handle." The temptations sometimes come in like a flood.

There are many stirring examples of persistence and resilience in the Bible and in the history of humanity. For example, Lee Iacocca, largely responsible for resurrecting the fortunes of the Chrysler Corporation, is credited with saying, "Show me a man who has never failed, and I will show you a man who has never tried."

If we can glimpse the fact that we are spiritual, expressing strength, courage, and fortitude as ideas of God, infinite Mind, the source of all energy, then we won't allow anything to hinder or limit our expression of God's qualities. Denigrating, restrictive thoughts would suggest otherwise, sometimes so persistently that they may mesmerize us or make us afraid. But we can put them out of consciousness by turning to God for a rundown on our real status and condition.

Another professional golfer did just that. He injured his arm two days before competing in a national championship, and he had great difficulty in swinging the club. He was tempted to pull out but was reminded of a statement in the Christian Science textbook: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 392). He followed this instruction, progressing over several days to the semifinals.

Another example of fortitude was a woman who'd been told by the doctors who were caring for her that she had only a short time to live. That was 10 years ago, and she's now in her 90s. She said that when the doctor told her she was dying, she said to herself, "Well, I have had a good life, I have helped many people, and as far as I know have not done anyone any wrong, so I may as well just pass on." Then she suddenly became aware of the implications of consenting to death in that way. She thought, "If I do, I am committing suicide, and I am not going to commit suicide. I am not going to give up."

She remembered this statement by Mary Baker Eddy: "He is bravely brave who dares at this date refute the evidence of material sense with the facts of Science, and will arrive at the true status of man because of it" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 183). She realized that she could be "bravely brave" and indeed refute the mortal evidence with what she knew to be true about her true identity as the child of God. And, within a short time, she was completely healed.

So often we are tempted to stop trying – to just give up – but we have the capacity to reject all such notions, and with this rejection come progress and victory.

For whatsoever is born of God
overcometh the world:
and this is the victory
that overcometh the world,
even our faith.
I John 5:4

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