Social media is buzzing right now with news of the Cardinal victory. I have seen more status updates related to the World Series than I have ever seen before. For some this World Series will go down as one of the greatest ever played, for others, well they could give a rip.
Although I am always intrigued by baseball and especially those games played in October, when my team doesn’t make it, I tend not to care all that much. Only this year I feel a little slighted. Although the Cardinals won with determination, I’m not sure game 7 was as fairly called as it could have been. This is one of the most wonderful yet frustrating things about baseball, the lack of a replay system. While the Rangers failed to score after the first and it was the home run that made it 3-2 that really was the deciding factor the subsequent runs scored by the Cardinals were less than fair. Watching replays of a 3-2 pitch called a ball clearly showed it was a strike which loaded. More blown calls led to another run and the rest as they say is history. I am not saying you can or should blame the umps for the game. Texas had more than enough opportunities and the Cardinals fought hard and won that game, but it makes me wonder what the game would have looked like if that pitch had been called as it really was, a strike.
It always makes me wonder as I look back on the events of my life if I had changed one decision here or there if it would have ended up the way it is now. Take for example my decision to leave the seminary in St. Louis. This is by no means a small decision. Had I stayed my time in seminary would likely be ending in May rather than December. I wouldn’t have to worry about the potential colloquy process. And while there stands a list of things I wouldn’t have to worry about there is an equally impressive list of things that never would have happened. I wouldn’t have worked for Whole Foods or Apple. I wouldn’t have ended up at a great internship congregation. Friendships I have made here at Northern would not exist. Yet they do, and here I am.
I am always amazed at how life seems to change directions whether I like it or not. Sometimes it is as a direct result of my decisions, other times it isn’t. Regardless of my culpability, change cannot be avoided. Surely people try to avoid it though. Even if the means and opportunity are there some would rather sit back and stay put, often times because it seems like the easier thing to do. However, sometimes the cards are stacked too high against someone to see the possibility of change. Sometimes the means are not there for it to take place. And even in those situations where change seems like an impossibility it rears its ugly head whether we like it or not. So the question then is not how can we avoid change but how do we react to it?
Different people respond to life differently. Not an overwhelming statement I know, but one that needs to be restated. Just because I do things one way does not mean it is good or right for someone else to do things the same way. I may be ready for something you are not and vice versa. So what? Who cares? Why talk about it? Because so often people get caught idealizing a response to a situation and that ideal paralyzes them.
Take the example of Luther for one. As Protestants everywhere remember Martin Luther and other Reformers this weekend they often view those examples as ones that cannot be imitated or duplicated. Martin Luther stood up to too big of an enemy how can I do the same thing? Is it even possible. And then there are others who see that example and feel it is incumbent upon them to do likewise and stand up for things even when nothing actually needs to be stood up for. But what people forget is that Luther was a guy who lived life his own way. Sure history remembers him a certain way, but his life is no more important than mine or yours. His life is no more important than the child starving overseas or the homeless guy down the block. His life is no more important than the person battling those inner demons of self deprecation or the one battling cancer.
Therein lies the point, no one life matters more than another yet we often act as though it does. We look up to sports heroes, shapers of society, and archetypes of altruism in an effort to teach ourselves how we should live because these people apparently had it right. Sometimes we don’t even look in reality for heroes. My childhood heroes donned jumpsuits and proton packs and battled a demon named Gozer and a Carpathain madman named Vigo. In fact their examples so impacted my life that during college I was asked to write a world view paper and that world view was based off what I learned from Ghostbusters.
I wasn’t the only one who reached back to something from their childhood to define a worldview either. My dearest friend, next to my wife of course, wrote about a song that had shaped his life. Hey Jude by the Beatles. “Take a sad song and make it better.” That sad song my friend knew was the one about his own life, a life similar to my own. Divorced parents and financial struggles. Self image issues and self deprecating attitudes. Yet he found a way to make a sad song better when he married his best friend. Even now, as struggles continue and new ones pop up I know he can adapt to them, not because of the heroes of his past, but because of who I know he is and who surrounds him, whether he sees it or not.
Yet the struggles don’t go away. Not for him. Not for you. Not for me. Not for any of us. We are often caught wondering how life would have been if this or that had not happened. We wonder what we could have done differently. We pretend that we now know the best course of action and if we could only get back to that moment that changed us we could fix life as we know it. Only theres one problem with that, it won’t happen. We cannot change the past. Apart from wild dreams and imaginative movies we haven’t figured out how to go back in time to right the wrongs or fix what was broken. All we can do is look forward.
As I survey the situation in life I am in right now I know that at any minute all of it could change. I could lose it all. And even if that happened I know I can make it through. Not because of the great examples of others, but because of the presence of others in my life. It’s amazing how much we actually do matter to each other whether we recognize it or not. Those great examples we look to often have others whom they relied upon and gained strength from. So rather than reach for those examples we should reach for those around us. Even more so, we should reach out to those around us to make known the love and support they might find if they need it.
Even now as I sit back and think about how life is always going to change, sometimes for the very worst. Even now as I think to myself how great it would be if we all realized how interdependent upon one another we really are. Even now as one day comes to a close and another is about to begin I am reminded of those words that talk about taking a sad song and making it better. Sure we can try to do it on our own, but we don’t have to. In the end that might be what taking a sad song and making it better is all about.