I Once Knew: 2 Corinthians 1 – 3

Some Passed Time. Trips and Plans. Always Forgive. “The New Covenant.”

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?”
2 Corinthians 3:1 (NIV)

Everyone needs a leader.

I had several throughout my childhood – from football coaches to shop teachers to charismatic church leaders – but besides my parents and family, I never had that years-long adult to child mentorship. I wanted one. I really did, more than anything. I envied those students adjacent to me who had found seemingly lifelong relationships with wise adults dedicated to building into them.

I had Mr. C, my gym and chess teacher in middle school. He never favored me and treated me just as every other student. I joined his basketball team even though I wasn’t very good. I made one double-double in the entire tenure of my basketball career – that is, I made ten points and ten rebounds in one game. Beyond that, I played baseball as well, and again, I was never very good. But our real passion was for chess. We would play throughout the day at school during free periods and lunch, and even online on Yahoo at night. He trained me in higher level play – creating “off book” scenarios for my challengers (that is, playing in a way that my opponent couldn’t predict my next move) and even had me play blindfolded. I won some tournaments and lost others.

And then I graduated middle school and entered the public high. We fell off from then. I saw him maybe a handful of times after that – not at all in the past 10 years.

The loss never stung. I don’t like goodbyes – never have – but I rarely process them with outward emotion. It’s an anxiety of mine – what will life look like without this person or in this new place. Sadness does not make me feel down. No – the edges of my vision get blurry and objects look unfamiliar. It’s like my life is a crib mobile, spinning slowly and indefinitely, and when someone important leaves my life, it’s like one of the strings gets cut. Things get wobbly. They get unsure.

I have made a side career out of being a “leader” for others. I have acquired other titles – nanny, therapist, teacher, mentor. I prefer that last term. I mentor teens and young adults, when kids tend to take those first steps away from their parents. I teach drama classes and lead social groups and “outings.” We work on interpersonal skills and socializing in real world environments where the lessons are most applicable. I tell parents that I work to make my input obsolete. The hope is to wean them off of me until I am no longer necessary.

If I am doing my job correctly, then one day, the student will say, “Oh yeah, I once knew that guy, but not anymore.”

I wish I had had a steadier source of leadership throughout my life, particularly someone within the Christian community. There is no blame – it is simply the way that it worked out.

Hopefully, I’m not screwing it up on the other end.