There are experiences that I wish I could relive over and over again. I know that time has a way of rewriting our past so that we are left with a sense of nostalgia for something that was not nearly as phenomenal as the memories we hold onto would suggest but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. It may be a smell or a sound, a feeling or a place visited, sometimes it is just a daydream that causes my mind to drift back to the past and my heart to long for those experiences. It’s not that I want to go back and relive that moment but rather I want that experience to once again be a part of my life.
Ever walk into a room and suddenly start thinking about the past?
If I smell latex paint I think of Christmas. The taste of candy apple makes me think of Easter. The smell of stale cigarette smoke mixed with damp cement floors makes me think of music. The feeling of total exhaustion, not one more ounce to give, makes me think of ministry at its best.
Before you think I am totally crazy, let me explain. Every Christmas for 8 years I would write, direct, act in and build sets for a Christmas comedy outreach play. Painting the sets was one of the last things I would do before we would take the show on the road.
Candy apple was the flavour of the fake blood we used in the crucifixion dramas I did at Easter.
The house we previously owned and the house we now rent have/had heated garages where we practice for our concerts. The garage in our current house was previously the smoking area before we rented it.
Total exhaustion was once a sign of giving my all.
I admit I was a workaholic and I had to rethink my link between work and my sense of self. I needed to lose my dependence on work to make me feel good about myself while still enjoying my work so much that it made me feel good.
I found that balance. I learned to enjoy downtime as well as my “full on work till you drop time.” I craved and still crave both. I found that my downtime was even more special when it was spent recovering from hard work and reconnecting with those who had to take a backseat.
Total exhaustion is now just life.
As I look back I can now see what wasn’t obvious to me in the past. My “full on work till you drop” times were getting shorter and the exhaustion worse. My “recovering from hard work” downtime had become longer. In the middle of a task I would take a break only to realise that the day was over before I recovered. I would then take a day off, to allow my body to heal and my mind to refocus but that day would turn into a few days. When I did start up again I could not concentrate or function at the level I thought I should and often went back to resting again. I did this until one day I couldn’t get out of bed. Life had changed forever.
I’ve had chances to “full on work till you drop” once again.
Boy did that feel good! Sadly that feeling was short lived and often left me in recovery mode every second day. I have longed for that week of “full on work till you drop” but even when it did come the odd time, the recovery made the experience unfulfilling.
This has been a special few weeks for me.
I have had the chance to “full on work till you drop.” It wasn’t just a day or two. It wasn’t just one week. I did it for three plus weeks. There were days when my body and mind started to shut down and a rest was needed but I got to push myself far beyond anything that I have done in the past five years and possibly the past ten.
That feeling of total exhaustion brought back some great memories. As I poured my body into bed each night incapable of offering any more I looked forward to the next day, to once again full on work till I dropped.
There has been a celebration going on in my mind. Like the smell of latex paint, the taste of candy apple and the smell of the damp stale smoke, I got a nostalgic trip down memory lane and a chance to relive the excitement of not just one ministry opportunity at a time but three.
Rehearsals for a worship concert and guest worship leading in our stale smoke, damp garage coupled with the flavour of candy apple as we created the perfect viscosity for the stage blood used in our Good Friday drama (every time a bit got on my fingers I had to lick it off) all made me feel alive once again – this was the sweet.
I am not what I once was. As much as I tried to pace myself, my drive to “full on work till you drop” took me over the line more than once. It is tough to stop when you feel the rush like you once did. It is tough to come to grips with the fact that by this Easter, even though it is far more than I have done in the last few years, I will have done far less than I used to and want to – this is the bitter.
My trip down memory lane, my chance to relive things from my past has taught me that things change and most of it is out of my control. I have only one thing that I can depend on:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
*Feature Images are of my garage last week. One area ready for concert rehearsal the other has freshly steamed costumes for Good Friday.