Today is Thursday. Thursday is social tennis day. From about 10:00-12:00 I will be enjoying the sunshine by the looks of the weather as I run around the tennis court. It's coming up to two years this October since I took up playing tennis, and there are times when It hunk to myself, "I wish I'd learnt to do this a long time ago." At school we didn't have tennis coaching, although we had plenty of courts available. But that shouldn't have stopped me, I just didn't know how to go about getting lessons and didn't have the money anyway.
It would be so easy to wonder about what might have been. I'm not for one minute thinking that I could have been a really good tennis player. In fact I suspect that had I started at school, I might not even be playing now. And that's the thing. Ho often do we live with some form of regret about what might have been when we know that like so many things we begin, we rarely finish them. Not because we're inherently undisciplined, but because we go through seasons. We have a season when something is important enough to pursue and seasons when it is not.
Had I lived out my life fully in the context of one season, then maybe I would have been single-minded enough to achieve something great. But that's not how I'm wired up and it's not how I'm ever going to be. Perhaps I should have found the one thing, and then chased it down with every ounce of effort and commitment I had. I guess that's the difference between champions and the rest of us. It's nothing to do with natural talent, it's more about the relentless pursuit of being the best.
But you can't live your life on the basis of the what if's and if only's. If we could, then I would go back in time and tell my younger self to sort out his eating habits sooner and learn about balanced diets and fitness before he puts on weight. I'd tell him to look beyond a science degree and towards other possibilities. I'd get him learning muscle origins and insertions and suggest physiotherapy as a study option. And I'd probably tell him to buy Apple shares when they are really cheap and to lend the inventors of Trivial Pursuits £100 the help them get the prototype made.
Then again, I probably also tell him not to follow that sense of call he has about ministry because it will only break his heart somewhere down the line and that people might never quite understand what it is that he is trying to show them. I'd try to point him away from the pain and heartache of what lies ahead. All of this because I want to revisit the possibilities that in later life appear to have slipped past without much notice.
So I can dream occasionally of what might have been, but I choose to live in the what is. I can change the what is, and I can affect what is to come, but I can't change what was, so there's little point dwelling on it. Perhaps in tennis I've found the one sport that I could have been good at. Well then, maybe I can be good at it now. At least I can be the best at it that I can be. I can put all my effort in to it in this season of my life. I can enjoy it and run with it and see where it takes me rather than wonder where it might have taken me. The same is true in ministry and with the Personal Training and Sports Massage. I could have done them years ago, but I'm doing them now and that's where I need to focus my attention.
Ministry is always unfolding and changing. I'm just as engaged with it I was, it just looks different. As I've said before, the Union might see me as being on leave of absence but I don't. It's not easy, but I have to decide every day not to regret the journey because win I do that I drop back into the what if's and if only's, and that is not a place I want to spend my life. It's too much of an adventure to live there.