02 Oct When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Thought They Would
If you don’t know this about me yet, I’m a pretty big Counting Crows fan. As a matter of fact, when my son, Asher, was born I may or may not have tried to name him Duritz, after the band’s front man. That idea was not well received (and probably for good reason, haha).
Like so many Crows fans, what initially drew me to the group wasn’t necessarily the melodies of their songs or their folky/alternative/Americana sound… it was the vulnerability of their lyrics. Duritz had a way of making you want to know the meaning behind every line and even more, you felt connected to his words, like somehow he had you in mind when he penned them.
August and Everything After, Counting Crows debut album, was the second CD I ever purchased. I was fourteen years old with $30 burning a hole in my pocket, so one fateful summer day I walked from my parent’s house to the local Kmart and bought the Crows album along with, of course, the new Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.
Mom didn’t think too fondly of tracks entitled “Budsmokers Only” and snatched my Bone Thugs album away. That was alright though, because after a day or two I’d honestly grown tired of listening to “Crossroads” on repeat anyways.
I remember placing the Counting Crows disc into my CD player and listening to it for the first time.
That’s when they became my favorite band.
Counting Crows have been the soundtrack to some of the greatest memories in my life. They were playing in the background on road trips with friends and were there during late night talks in college dormitories. They were in my headphones on treks to visit family back in Iowa and were my inspiration when I started playing music and writing songs myself.
A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to see them live for the second time. It had been over a decade since I’d seen them last, and to say the least, I was pretty excited.
A group of us made our way to the outdoor venue. After the blanket was laid out and I’d purchased a ridiculously overpriced Budlight, I settled in for something special.
I’m not trying to be overly dramatic, but it was special to me, and in a way that I wasn’t really prepared for. Every song connected to a memory. I was transported back in time to 3am walks with my friend, Bengston. I recalled awkwardly flirting with my sisters friends while “Ghost Train” played quietly in the distance on that temperamental CD player. I remembered Jenn learning the chords to “Raining in Baltimore” on our rickety old piano.
I realized that so much has happened between then and now, and while there’s been a lot of good, there’s also been a lot that didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
I bet as a kid you didn’t think someday you’d be struggling with an addiction or stressing about whether you’d be able to pay the bills. You likely didn’t assume you’d be battling cancer or some other sickness. There was no way for you to know then that an eating disorder would get a grip on you or that you’d become a victim of domestic abuse.
But that’s life. It’s messy. It’s painful at times. Not for some of us… for all of us.
God never promised it would be easy. Rather, He said, “Come to me when you are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” He never said life wouldn’t punch you in the stomach, He simply promised to be there when it does.
One of the things I’m being reminded of in this season is that everyone needs grace. Life is too rigid and painful for us to withhold it from one another.
For instance, what if that person who just cut you off is a single mom trying to make her second job on time so she’s able to pay rent? Or that neighbor who doesn’t keep up with his yard? What if he’s depressed and tucks himself into bed the second he gets home?
Everyone has something.
Yet, despite our messiness, God has the audacity to want to use us.
He wants to use you despite your baggage. He wants to use me, too.
Yes, my marriage is ending.
Yes, it sucks.
And still, I can hear the Man Upstairs reassuring me: “I’m not done with you yet.”
I refuse to waver in hope.
God is still good and He has a plan for me. He has a plan for Jenn, too.
I am blessed to continue serving as FCC’s pastor.
I am blessed to be “daddy” to three beautiful children.
My friend Perry says it this way: “Hope is what causes us to believe that our setbacks are merely setups for greater things than we could ever imagine.”
Life is hard. Sometimes, honestly, too hard.
But you’re not done yet. I’m not done yet.
Get up. You’ve got this.
We’ve got this.