It Was Not My Whole Life

Posted on July 25, 2016 | 6 comments


For a golfer, it was a dream come true. In 1999, after playing 71 holes Jean Van de Velde led the British Open by three strokes.

There was just one hole to play.

This was a seemingly insurmountable lead.

What awaited at the end of this hole was his name engraved in arguably the most coveted trophy  in golf and a hero’s celebration in his home country of France.

Tens of millions of people worldwide instead saw Van de Velde collapse and finish the hole tied for the lead. He would eventually lose the tournament in a playoff.

Recently, Jean Van de Velde was interviewed for a documentary about the work he has done in France in the intervening years. At the end, the interviewer leaned forward and in a solemn voice asked “Do you ever think about Carnoustie [the golf course the 1999 British Open was played on]?”

You can imagine what the interviewer was hoping to hear. Here is how Jean responded:

“Carnoustie was one day of my life, it was not my whole life.”

Read that statement again. This man who had one of the most epic golf failures on its biggest stage had not allowed his failure to define him. This was probably not a quick or easy conclusion to come to, but it was the truth the he lived in.

Jean realized that he was more than his failure.

All of us have pain and failure that has occurred in our lives. Some have experienced worse than others. But, this truth is the same for all of us.

Your past does not define you. Your circumstances do not define you. Your failure does not define you.

In Christ, it is only His love of you that defines who you are and why you have value.

This is not always an easy mindset to adopt, but the first step to freedom is the acknowledgment that you are more than your failure or what has been done to you.

Begin today to develop awareness of the lies that you are clinging to and allow the light of Christ to shine into your darkness.

What failure of the past are you allowing to define your present?

What has been done to you in the past that you are allowing to dictate your future?

What pain are you experiencing because it seems too hard to let it go?


I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Tree of Lies: Transforming Decisions, Behaviors, and Relationships By Gaining Perspective On Your Identity in Christ.

Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching,  speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.

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  1. This excellent post reminds me of a quote from Michael Card: “You are not your gift.”
    We Christians have a tendency to reduce ourselves to whatever ministry God places us in, and forget that we are full of all kinds of other beauty as well.
    Thanks for your wisdom!

    • Exactly. It is not our performance that God loves. Great comments.

  2. That is an awesome statement and I must remember it. There are some who have terrible things happen to them, but if they could hear this it would bless them. If they would apply it that is.
    Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

  3. Allowing our failures to define us is an easy trap to fall into. I know I struggled with that in the past and even now it will creep into my thought process if I am not intentional about canceling those thoughts. My failures were not on an international platform so I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache Jean must have experienced!

    Thanks so much for sharing this powerful hope at #MomentsofHope! I appreciate your contributions!

    • We find it so much easier to believe the bad.

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