|Part of the Wesley Memorial "family"|
But I need to acknowledge before God and my readers that like with any family, there are struggles. I was never perfect; I didn't become a sinner because I sinned. I sinned because, like everyone else, I am a sinner. There are people out there- former youth and their parents- who because of my public sin would like to forget they were ever a part of my family. Because of my failings, it has become painful for them to think about our time together. Even reading this blog and reliving the wonderful times we shared would be difficult. I understand this and apologize for it. I hope they will forgive me at some point- partly selfishly, and partly because I hope I taught them that forgiveness is the business of Christians. Their feelings do not negate the fact that we shared life together with Jesus and we were important to one another. That is why I continue to share these stories. But I know that some of their memories of our time together are tainted. It's kind of like if I wear a blue shirt everyday, and your knowledge of me is that I am a blue shirt guy. A good guy. Suddenly, without warning, I show up in a red shirt- a sin stained shirt- and you're stunned and disappointed. As time goes by, you might forget about all the good days in the blue shirts and focus on the red one. This has happened with some people I love dearly. They can no longer picture me in a blue shirt. It's like I wore red the whole time. With God, because of grace, the red shirt is gone forever. With people...hopefully time will heal the wounds that I inflicted.
As a result of those feelings that I know exist in my youth ministry family, there are people I have not tried to contact in a very long time. There are people I miss terribly, but I am waiting on God to give them open hearts and myself the opportunity to reach out to them. I certainly do not wish to cause them any more pain, so I will continue to wait on them to take the first step. In the meantime, I miss them and love them. I yearn to send them an e-mail or give them a call. But I can't- not yet. The great poet laureate of Florida, Jimmy Buffet, wrote a song years ago that expresses a great deal of my emotion. The lyrics are below. We can't live in the past, but hopefully we can live through it. If the phone doesn't ring, it's me. To everyone who was a part of my youth family over the many years- I love you all, and more importantly, so does Jesus. A the old cliche says, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future." Jesus does. And because of that, we will have a family reunion- some day. Spread the word.