Our family returned to Augusta for the first time since we left, four years ago. On Wednesday we joined the students in worship, and the youth minister called me forward. Ugh. Game time. It is much better to be the one with the mic in these moments. The youth minister also called up Andy, who was my partner in ministry four years ago, now the Mission Pastor at the church. There we stood, eying each across a table of mini-pies. It was a no hands involved pie eating contest. So we gave each other a high five…
In that moment, smiling at each other, it felt like old times. But so much has changed. I am a head pastor in Missouri. Darcy, who was not born, is about to be three (Ivy is a 3rd grader, Phoebe a kindergartner). Megan still cuts my hair, but now she jokes about the gray she discovers.
The other thing that was different were people’s memories. We were loved in Augusta, but far from perfect. As in any ministry not everyone was happy, and everyone had some desire for improvement. And when I left, the church decided to change the form of the ministry (Andy and I were equal partners and that went so well…). Yet in our return everyone we encountered was celebratory. They loved seeing me with Andy again at the front. Wishing we had never left. We were champions on parade.
(You could argue, and might be right, people were just being kind…)
The grass is always greener on the other side and, I think, always greener in the past. The brown patches, the weeds, are all forgotten. Maybe time allows us to see the weeds weren’t really that big of a deal. But if somehow we could go to that time or place, the defects would be evident. I was not, am not, the perfect minister. The church, my ministry, was far from exceptional back then. And, for you, whatever time makes your heart sing – it is not as good as you remember it (life was crazy when you had kids in pampers!).
After the high fives, I swallowed my way to my first food eating victory. The youth minister gave me a Chick-fil-a gift card – back in the day I only gave out fame and glory. Getting both is rather nice. After all, you can only spend the time (and gift cards) you have today!
As we move towards Thanksgiving, don’t wish for something else. Seize and rejoice with what is actually in your life today!