A friend of mine asked the question on Facebook the other day “what unnecessary things from ‘before’ do you find yourself still doing?” He clarified his question by explaining that he still ensures he wears black socks on a work day, despite sitting in his living room on ZOOM all day.
It got me thinking about the things I might be hanging onto from the past – both pre-lockdown and more generally from a time before which I need to move on from. Reminiscing is a powerful thing, and vital to us to understand and shape our identities. Where we have come from determines who we are now. In fact this morning I had the immense pleasure of making a brief guest appearance on a podcast to share a funny anecdote from my history – one of the things that has kept me going the last 10 months has been discovering fun podcasts which make me laugh out loud (rather embarrassing when I’m listening on my headphones out walking my dog!)
I know there are times when I look back at before COVID with longing and regret. My youth ministry was flourishing, we were doing some great things in school, there were a bunch of young people eager to meet with God and change the world for Him, reputation was growing. And now, I’m stuck with a ZOOM group once a week, and social media channels which get a few likes and shares if I’m lucky. Looking back can make me despondent and uninspired. Too many times I’ve thought “why am I doing this?”
Comparing now to then is pretty fruitless. The adage “The past is a different country, they do things differently there” could not be truer than right now. But so too is the future. Tomorrow will not be the same as today, nor will it be like yesterday. It will be its own thing, and it is just as fruitless to worry about tomorrow as it is yesterday. Jesus makes this pretty clear:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
So I’m trying to deal with now – looking for the shoots of green and the signs of the Kingdom today. Like the young man I’ve just started to mentor who is hungry for God; or the girl who found illuminate through the internet; the young leader emerging from the shadows. And I’m enjoying the chaos too – young people eating their Sunday dinner during a ZOOM youth group; schools opening and closing within 24 hours. I’m holding both the past and the future as lightly as possible – I know where I’ve come from, but I can’t go back; and I don’t know where I’m going but I’m going to enjoy the journey.