Have you ever lost something important to you?
When I was a kid, I was introduced to video games through a friend of my father. This friend had a daughter that had just graduated high school and was in the process of moving to college. One day when we were visiting their house, they set up an old NES for my siblings and me to play. And just like that, I was introduced to 8 bit Mario and flying ducks. I remember being terrible at the game, but despite how terrible I was, my dad’s friend offered to give my dad the system since they weren’t going to use it anymore. We took that old janky system home and treasured it for years. I remember it not having the ability to save our progress on any games and so my dad and I would turn off the tv display but we’d leave the system on for days so that we could try and reach the “big world” on Super Mario three. I remember this leading to fond memories of me playing games with my dad, my sister, and also a few select friends at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I remember when the Gameboy Advance was released. Every other commercial on Saturday morning cartoons was for that handheld system. I remember getting it at Costco, with the hopes of playing it on a family vacation. I also remember disobeying my parents shortly before the trip and them punishing me by confiscating it before that trip. More importantly, I remember them presenting it to me halfway through the trip as they taught me about grace.
Shortly thereafter, one of the best inventions ever was released: the Gameboy SP. Basically, it was the Gameboy Advance but with a backlit screen. I remember going to the Toys R Us store and laying out the Christmas and birthday money I had amassed to buy my limited edition, half black and half silver Gameboy SP. I freaking LOVED that portable gaming system. Late night road trips were no longer a drag. I could play Fire Emblem Sacred Stones and Advance Wars late into the night and then fold it and hide it next to my bed if my parents checked if I was asleep. Life was good.
Then, one fateful day my family made the trek north to visit my cousins and grandparents. It was a perfect storm. I was sick and not feeling the best and my cousins, sisters, and I were bored beyond belief. Our mothers had dragged us to the Great Mall and I had brought my Gameboy to keep me entertained. I will never forget that day because that was the day that I lost my Gameboy SP forever. At first, I thought it just fell out of my pocket. Later on, my sister said that it might have been stolen by a kid who was eyeing it while I was obliviously distracted at some random store. To this day, I don’t know what happened to it. We followed up with security, lost and found, and I backtracked that mall so much that day. I was so crushed because it was so valuable to me and yet in my carelessness and my distracted state, I had lost it. Forever.
Sometimes I think about friendships and relationships that I’ve had in the past and I think about where they transformed from sweet to sour. So much goes on inside my head. I feel like most of the time that I’m not puking word vomit on my friends and family, I’m conversing in my head with myself. I analyze each move and each conversation. I cringe at the things I said and I wish that I could take back words and actions that I had allowed to occur. I’m obsessed with keeping things the way they are.
I’m afraid of losing friends and I’m afraid of being too clingy. Ironically, the tighter that I hold onto friendships the more likely they are to deteriorate. I’ve had to learn to surrender control and to allow one sided relationships run their course. I’ve had to learn that being friends with everyone is logistically impossible. I’ve had to learn how to give up certain fights so that I could do my best to preserve my friendships instead of creating impassable rifts.
And yet, even with all I’ve learned, sometimes I still end up losing. It’s hard to let go, and it’s hard to trust that God can somehow work all my crap together for good.
I’ve been reading the book of Acts to try and find some answers for some pretty big questions I have about the American church in the present day. It is absolutely crazy how messy it was even back then, and yet, somehow God still managed to use the church for good. It’s so much easier to say that we should trust God than actually jumping with two feet and trusting that He’ll somehow work things together for our good.
This one is for all of us who have been left dazed, distracted, and cynical by what life has thrown at us. This is for those of us that are trying to persevere.