What Have You Been Doing the Last 40 Years?

IMG_3339Last weekend, I sat beside my sister Sheila, looking around the room at sixty fellow students of our 1974 high school class. I don’t understand these reunions. Over the years, I’ve been part of groups that once dissolved, left a more pronounced hole in my life. But we Americans love high school reunions. And for some reason I felt compelled to go.

Though older than me by eighteen months, Sheila and I spent our twelve years of schooling in the same grade. Born premature, and very small for her age, my parents held her back so she wouldn’t be alone. Always quiet and reserved, Sheila was the antithesis of me.

So, it didn’t surprise me when one of our classmates walked across that ballroom and said to Sheila, “When I saw your name on the list, I just knew I had to come.”

I remembered Jerry, and I remembered how close he and Sheila were. What I didn’t know was how every morning, Sheila swung by his house so they could walk to school together.

Now I know I’m a little rough around the edges. And I’ve become accustomed to people noting how much I’ve changed. And Jerry was no exception.

“You scared me in High School,” he said with a laugh. “One day I was at your house and you gave me a look that scared me to death.”IMG_3338

Thankfully he finished his outburst by saying, “But you’re really different now.” Reassuring words to this battered old soul.

Regardless of who we were yesterday, we’ve all got the tools to grow. Every experience we go through, we can choose how to respond. And even when we blow it, we can still follow Christ’s lead. We can always apply humility by seeking forgiveness.

Dallas Willard once said, “What matters is not the accomplishments you achieve; what matters is the person you become.”

Easy words to say, but so hard to live out.

My first response is to blame others for my misfortune. Or to shake my fist at God for the fate He’s bestowed upon me. To justify my bitterness and rage.

But the older I get, the more I value my ability to back pedal.

Because I don’t ever want to stop fighting the good fight. I want to stay in the ebb and flow of striking out, asking for forgiveness, and applying grace when I’m wronged.

I don’t ever want to stop picking up the pieces of my broken life. I want to keep lifting them up and asking Him, “What in the world am I supposed to do with this?”

You see, just because I tend to get off the path. Or I seem to often lose my way. It doesn’t mean I don’t know where I’m going. Because I do. And I’m determined to keep pressing on. To stay in the fight. To never, ever give up.

All I ask is that you not lose hope in me until I finally make it home.

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