This excerpt comes from Chapter 6 in the book.
There are Christmas mornings we remember so well from when we were kids. Presents packed tightly under the tree, stockings stuffed with little goodies, Christmas music playing throughout the house, and perhaps snowflakes falling from the sky. When it was time to open the gifts, if you’re anything like me, you started unwrapping the smallest and worked up to the largest. It was a climactic build-up toward that most special gift that just barely (or hopefully didn’t) fit under the tree. Yet when you got to that treasure of treasures, once the bow and wrapping paper had been thoroughly removed, wonder and awe set in as you peered at the gift and held it for the very first time. What you had asked for was actually here, in your hands. It was yours.
Through all the remarkable, as well as the challenging, gifts presented in my time in the U.K., there is one that stood out the most. It was one particular gift that would permanently change my life for the better.
But let me backtrack for a moment.
During the holidays—Christmas of 2005 and New Year’s Day of 2006—I had much to ponder. I had been given two opportunities to consider for the future: (1) I could stay in the U.K., but with a little different focus: move to London to work with a local church while also traveling over to Wales a couple of days a week to teach my courses or (2) I could move back to Memphis to, once again, work with Visible Music College.
In all honesty, at the time, I could not see myself moving back to the States. The U.K. had captured my heart and I wasn’t as eager to return to the land of the free and home of the brave.
As I was back in the States over that holiday period, I spent some time with Ken Steorts. There was no “offer I could not refuse.” I’ve not yet experienced that in my world. Rather, it simply consisted of conversation about what was going on and what opportunities were available. I also began to ponder being back with people I knew and loved dearly. I had come back for a visit a couple of other times while based in the U.K., but this was the first time I had considered returning to be with these close friends on a permanent basis.
This all gave me much to think about.
While on this visit, I had a week to spend in St. Louis as part of the intensives for my Master’s degree. Though it was filled with studying from morning until evening, I was still able to reflect on the two options that lay before me.
During that visit back to the U.S., and for the first time, I was open to moving back. I recognized the viability, saw the opportunity, and, therefore, decided to return. In the summer I would return to the Bluff City, Home of the Blues.
Upon arriving back at the Bible College, I passed on the news to my colleagues little by little. It was difficult to share. I really don’t like change of this nature. As I emphasized earlier on, I am a person who strongly values commitment—to family, life, hobbies, work, and ministry. I give everything toward that for which I am passionate. To give up, say goodbye, or move on is never easy.
At times, that has also kept me from moving on from unhealthy situations when I should. Like some people, I carry the superhero-savior complex. Perhaps it looks good from the outside (probably not) but it’s a killer inside. To believe that everything rests on one’s shoulders is a disastrous perspective to hold. I must continually remind myself that I am merely one human being and I only have a limited amount to offer in any situation.
Nonetheless, being back on British turf, I now felt the brunt of the forthcoming change in my own heart.
Yet, the most difficult thing of all would come two months after making the decision to return to the U.S.
I met a girl. A beautiful English rose.