In Summer 2009, after 6 years of marriage, my wife and I had our first summer “free” as a couple. Prior to that, every summer was some combination of moving, taking new jobs, and (mostly) doing graduate work. Ruthie approached me one evening about possibly going on a road trip, to which I was agreeable.
Now, those of you that know my wife professionally probably know what happened next. Within a few hours, we had a detailed day-by-day travel itinerary, reservations (when needed), a budget, places to stay for free with various family members, and planned activities for a 20-day road trip, all laid out graphically in a variety of calendars, charts, and maps. In other words, I was pretty much locked into taking this trip, which is OK, because it turned out to be one of greatest (if not the greatest) experiences of my life. Here was the approximated route (you might need to click on the picture to get the mileage details):
(Essentially, our only costs were for gas, because nearly every night of the trip we stayed either with one of Ruthie’s family members or in a tent in a state or national park.)
I often reference this trip in my courses because of the wide variety of experiences that I encountered; here are a few:
This trip had tremendous benefits to me individually and to my wife and I as a couple. I think about elements of this journey often, and I look forward to a time when we can do a similar, walking/exercise/adventure-heavy vacation with our children; I figure in about ten years.
In May 2013, as I was getting into my car to go to work, my key chain broke. This normally would not be all that significant of an event; trinkets like a mere key chain break all of the time.
However, this was personally significant for me. (I feel like this is the point that I should lay down on a couch to tell you the rest of this story.)
My sophomore year in high school, I was still felt very socially outcast, and while I tried to be kind and helpful to people, I rarely felt as if that affection was reciprocated. Now given, it probably was, but I was not as confident as I am (or feign) now so I probably just didn’t pick up on it.
So anyway, every year the women’s basketball team at Avinger would pick a “basketball beau” and the men’s team would pick a “basketball sweetheart”, and there was a little ceremony at a game and it was a kinda sweet deal. Basically, it was like a poor man’s homecoming king and queen, except based on “showing the most support for the basketball team of the opposite sex.” So, we get to the game in which this award is given, and shockingly, I received it. For one of the first times as a teenager, I felt genuine acceptance from a group of my peers. It also helped my confidence that it was girls that did the voting. ☺
As part of the award, I got a really nice key chain engraved “AHS BEAU”. For 16 years (fully half of my life) that was the key chain that I used for all of my keys; only my wife really ever realized it, and probably only then because a couple of years ago the mechanical latch that allowed you to separate its two key rings broke and I futilely tried to have it repaired.
Well, on that day in May 2013, the key chain itself just broke, with the metal holding the ring itself simply falling off from wear. There was no going back. For the first 30 minutes or so of my day, I was really bummed out.
Then something interesting happened: I sat down to manipulate keys on the two “plain” key rings that were left, and I discovered that the keys now fit better. It turns out that over the previous several weeks my keys had been stabbing me in the leg, and I’d actually examined how I could lessen the number of keys themselves. While all of the keys were deemed essential and I continued on with things jabbing into my leg, I’d never once thought for a split second that removing the “AHS BEAU” keychain could ease my burden, but it did.
I was so blindly holding onto this little thing from the past that I was unable to realize that it was actually what was causing all of my pain.
1 Corinthians 13:11
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me”
Today’s blog is about the past.
Sometimes the past is full of triumphs, adventures, and great lessons that we can use to drive our future.
At the same time, sometimes the tiny things from our past that we cling to are the very things that are the source of our troubles. I see this each semester in students that cannot escape some element of their past experiences, and instead they are forever dragged down by things that can never be changed (short of building a time machine).
As professors and advisors, we must help our students identify those things from the past worth remembering and celebrating, while at the same time working to identify those things from the past that serve only to pull them down, restricting them from reaching God’s ultimate purposes for their lives.