This weekend I will be traveling to South Florida to participate in a reunion of sorts. A few of the members of the youth group at the church I began attending when I was a junior in high school have put together a reunion for the once teenagers who attended during the ministry of Youth Pastor Mark Silkey.
Not only was I a senior in high school when Mark began his ministry, but for the next two years after I graduated, I oversaw the Middle School Ministry (of course under Mark's supervision and mentoring). I would say that Mark, and another Pastor at that church, L.C. Campbell, hold the position of being probably the most influential people in my life.
So I will be attending the reunion, having participated as a student under Mark's ministry, and leader there. (A few years later served with L.C. at a new church plant, where he continued to pour into my life - and still does.)
I have lost touch with most of the now 50+ attendees (I'm talking about the number of people, not age... although most of us are now 50+ years old). I have stayed in touch with some, including Mark, and L.C., and a few whom who I have mentored. These are the valuable relationships that I have clung to over the years, and although they are mostly maintained through phone and email, they remain a high priority in my life. Re-connecting in person will be a treat.
But I do have some mixed emotions about attending. First and foremost in my mind is how I will be remembered, and frankly I don't think I was all that fun to be around back then. I know I have changed and matured since then (I'm talking about character here), but will there be much grace offered to me?
The inevitable "Wow, you look different!" comments will be passed around, and hopefully most of us look different enough so as not to single anyone out. Then there's the "What have you done all these years?" and "What are you doing now?" questions that will circulate. I hope I will not seek to one-up others with pseudo-accomplishments and larger-than-truth-stories.
Finally, some emotional tremors are being felt because this reunion is causing me to evaluate my life and to look back, asking some hard questions. How many have I influenced to be a leaders in the Kingdom of God? Who can I look back to and say I poured my life into? (Like Mark and L.C. did for me.) Am I fulfilling my destiny?
And so I go to the youth group reunion. If needed, I will apologize for the way I was back then. When relating stories of my life, I will seek to be humble and truthful, giving glory to God for any accomplishments. I will listen to others stories intently, rather than interjecting my stories and making the conversation about me. Above all, I will seek to demonstrate the value of the life-long relationships that I have had the privilege of sharing in.