Mulligan Mercies: Learning to say “Yes!”

What keeps you up at night? I don’t mean external interruptions like that yapping dog that seems to be nocturnal or your child calling out for the cup of water that is already by his bed, but instead those deep unseen soul tugs that seem to draw you out of much needed rest. What keeps you up at night? For me, it’s regrets.

Yes, there are stresses and strains and pressures from the outside world that occasionally cause me to toss and turn, but the most resonating weights are those of personal regrets. That harsh tone to our children, that misunderstanding with our husbands, that email we didn’t send, or the one we did, only wishing afterward that we could undo the click that sent it forever into cyberspace. Perhaps it is the long litany of “to dos” that didn’t “get done”. The endless organizing, filing, balancing, bookkeeping, corresponding, cooking, nurturing, earning, and tutoring that make up our lives. I believe that God wired women to be multi-taskers, but sometimes the multi-tasks just seem to multiply, becoming too numerous, or the wrong ones seem to scream the loudest and take priority.

For me, last night, I was awakened by the image of my daughter’s face as she stood by my desk earlier in the day asking just one last time in a sweet voice, “Mommy can you play with me?” When she asked that question, I do not believe I saw her face nearly as clearly as I did now in the middle of the night. Somewhere amidst my urgent typing and my mumbled, “In a moment”, her request faded away and she wandered off, unnoticed. Somehow, of course, that “moment” never came. The play never happened. So I am now wide awake and wondering what to do with this heavy melancholy, this…regret.

When I began to look for some solace, an unlikely metaphor came to mind. Mulligans. Now I am not a golfer, so this is not the term that I would have predicted to come to my aid. Mulligans. Now what were those again? I remember my husband once patiently explaining that a Mulligan is when a golfer gets a second chance or a “do-over.” I was so excited by the term that I asked if I could have another. It was then I learned the dark side of Mulligans. You only get one.

In the middle of the night, I began to feel my spirits lift as I realized that in life, you don’t get just one. You get a new Mulligan, or a new “do-over” every single day, and sometimes if needed, several times a day. A new chance to be a better mother, or wife, or friend, or partner. You get a new chance every day to just do and be better.

One of my favorite scriptures promises that God’s mercies are new every morning. How wonderful that God gives us the assurance that every time the sun rises, it is a sign that we have a new day, a new chance, a new slate. And now we can write on that slate a richer text that has been tempered and textured by our regrets, and our resolve to make the most of our daily Mulligan Mercies.

It is even more wonderful that God carefully crafted children to be the most blissful examples of this kind of grace. Their record-keeping-of -wrongs is thankfully underdeveloped. After my sleepless night, my daughter awoke and looked at me this morning as though the sun had just entered the room. I sat next to her and said, let’s play…and we did. The other thousand things clamoring for my attention could wait a few more precious moments. This time I didn’t need a Mulligan…my do-over was a hole in one. And because of His grace, yours can be too!