This past weekend, our church celebrated its 75th anniversary. My husband has pastored the church for 25 of those 75 years. Our planning committee spent over a year contacting former church members (who were still among the living, of course), designing a fun program, and putting together details.
For months, my mind has dwelled in the past. I was raised in this church and I have a TON of remembrances to sort through. The thoughts from the past became current realities as people I hadn’t seen in years converged on one weekend to celebrate the history of the church. The evening would be like a stroll through a meadow of memories.
For the most part, it turned out to be a really great weekend. You might ask what made it not-so-great. The people who represented unpleasant memories. Let me clarify. The people were great. The memories they evoked weren’t.
As a teenager, I tended to be a little cocky–sort of a snotty know-it-all. I enjoyed putting people down and my words carried a sarcastic edge. Some people found me humorous, and that made me feel really cool. The more they egged me on, the more sarcastic I became. In retrospect, I cringe when I think of those teenage years. How did my youth leaders ever put up with me?
So, when my former youth leader (now in his late 70s) showed up at the anniversary celebration, I felt a tinge of guilt. To make matters worse, he and his wife sat at my table, directly across from me. Talk about awkward.
Throughout the evening, various people representing different decades shared their stories. It was mentally intoxicating, and I found myself drifting back thirty and forty years to see things and hear sounds long forgotten.
Maybe it was the fragrance of the meadow of sweet memories that caused my mind to shift. I’m not sure what happened, but I was struck with a new awareness: If left untouched, regrets from the past can lead to more regrets in the future. I decided to “touch” the regret and have a long overdue conversation with my former youth leader.
As he was getting ready to leave, I cornered him and, looking him in the eye, said, “Thank you for your wonderful years of leadership over our youth group. I was a cocky teenager and don’t know how you put up with me all that time. I’m so sorry. You invested a lot in us, and I appreciate everything you have done.” He graciously shook my hand and spoke a blessing over my life.
That’s a memory I can live with.
- What will you do today that will create a pleasant memory for someone else?
Instead of letting unpleasant memories become a stumbling block, how can you turn them into stepping stones by learning from them?
What regrets have you left untouched? What would happen if you decided to “touch” them?