A Seasonal Reminder


By Luke Lang

Once upon a New Year’s Eve…

We are about to embark upon a shiny new year. I love that New Year smell! There is something completely hopeful about a new year. No matter how awesome or horrible last year was, we get a do-over. New Year’s Day is an annual reminder that life is all about seasons. We go through stuff. We GROW through stuff. And sometimes you just look back and you are thankful that you survived stuff. We all have weird seasons of life. This is the story of one of those seasons for me. I’m MUCH older now and HOPEFULLY a little wiser.

I was in my early 20s, I was a rookie youth pastor with a youth group that consisted of three middle school boys and my sister. There was a big…REALLY big youth rally coming up on New Year’s Eve in Denver, Colorado. 695 miles way from home. I decided that our small yet sturdy little group really needed to attend this event; I was sure that it would be a time of unparalleled spiritual empowerment and enrichment.

Yeah, right. My motives for driving eleven hours to celebrate the New Year weren’t entirely…um…pure.

The truth was…I wanted to meet girls. The only single girls at our church, besides my sister, were either six or 76. That didn’t work for me. When I heard about this denominational rally, I suspected that there were going to be girls there from exotic places like Iowa.

I had to go. I wanted to go for spiritual reasons too…I promise. But, honestly…the social reasons were more important to me during that season. Life is all about seasons. It was a wild season. So…I got three jobs in an effort to make the money to go to the big New Year’s Eve event.

First, I worked nights at a pizza place. It was a New York style pizza place (in Oklahoma) that I think was owned by the mafia. It was managed by a guy who had actually been to New York. His name was Tony…seriously, true story! Tony had a big, very impressive mustache and a quick, not so impressive temper. He liked to occasionally throw pizza dough. His wife worked there too. She was a very angry person; but I think she liked me. She even gave me a nickname: Butt-face. I’m pretty sure that she meant it in a sweet way.

Despite my warm, fuzzy bosses, my least favorite part of this job was the uniform. I had to wear a thin cotton T-shirt that was 3 sizes too small for me. It was embarrassing. My chubby chest was constantly on display. I felt like an object. I would squeeze into the unforgiving shirt—which made breathing a real challenge—and try to serve up slices of pie. I apologize to the people who tried to eat while viewing me packed like a sausage into that too-tight shirt.

I ALSO worked at a lovely little chain shoe store. I would spend hours trying to fit size 14 feet into size 9 high heeled shoes. It was a fragrant place to work. It was there at that shoe store where, one fateful day, I gave myself a hickey…seriously, true story.

We had rubber suction cups with hooks that held up window signs. For some truly idiotic reason I attached one of the suction cups to my forehead, where, surprise! It made suction. Then it wouldn’t come off. It took me 7 panicked minutes to get the suction cup unattached from my face. It left a mark…a perfectly round, bright red hickey! My first and only hickey, and I gave it to myself. My dad was so proud. I got home from work that night, he looked at me, let out a long sigh, and asked, “What did you do now?!”

I told him it was a biking accident. I don’t know if he believed me.

FINALLY, I also worked at a sunglass kiosk at the mall. It was right between Orange Julius and the Hot Dog on a Stick place. This job was supposed to be my ticket to finally being cool! I mean, c’mon!! I was AT THE MALL! I was selling over-priced sunglasses. But, It’s really hard to be cool with a big red hickey on your forehead.

The thing about seasons is that they don’t last forever. I worked 47 days straight and made the money to get to Colorado. Fortunately, the hickey had disappeared and I didn’t have to wear my pizza place shirt.

There WAS a girl there from Iowa and we came dangerously close to meeting: we were about seven feet away from each other. We have the picture to prove it. But, we didn’t actually meet for another year and a half. AND, then we met in another exotic place, Virginia.

Diana was beautiful and kind and creative. She still is. She became my wife. She still is.

We NOW live in Denver (NC). We have shared sweet and sour seasons. That’s how life works.

Life is all about seasons. I have discovered that the crazy seasons and the weird stuff in my story are all connected with the sweet seasons and the very good stuff. It’s all related.

Maybe you are in the midst of a hard time: New Year’s Day is a reminder that nothing last forever.

Don’t despise the weird seasons. Don’t get beat down by the hard times. It’s all leading you somewhere.

Maybe somewhere exotic like Iowa!