Great Lake Swimmers

Bobby Posting:

I got an email a couple of days ago from one of the long, lost writers of this blog.  In it, Adam, pointed the other 3 of us to a song by Andrew Osenga, formally lead singer of the Normals (a band I was a big fan of back in HS…strangely enough).  Anyway, the lyrics that stuck out were:

Well I guess I’m getting older
Just like everybody else
And we start to sit and wonder
“What happened?”
Well it seems I closed my eyes
And awoke in another life
And I miss you boys, but this ain’t bad at all

But we were so sure
We would change the world…

After that the song kind of tails off into something symbolic and obscure…but like New Testament writers do sometimes with the Old Testament…I took the section I liked, used it for my purposes, and left the other confusing stuff alone for somebody else to come clean up.

Anyway, it brought me back to a dorm room at Northwestern University 5 years or so ago.  The four of us, viachicago before viachicago, sitting around tossing around dreams and prayers.  I had had this dream (vision?  sort of.  maybe?  maybe.) of an all men’s ministry on campus.  There was nothing of the sort there at NU.  Thus, Monday Night Manhood was birthed.  We put together an idea and plan (the word “plan” is used roughly here) and put MNM into action within 2 weeks.  Our first get-together had a good handful of guys from 2 or 3 different student groups.  Within a  couple of months, though, we’d reached our peak.  At least 30 guys from a half-dozen or so different established groups came together on Monday Nights and just shared in an hour or two of singing and praying with each other.  It was one of those moments where you’re living right in the center of God’s sweet spot…doing exactly what you knew God had in store for you.

As school started up the next year, the four of us lived together for the first time.  Strangely, slowly but surely, MNM began to fall off the priority chart.  Our dream and prayer began to feel the choking tension of four inidivuals leading their own lives instead of 1 group doing life completely together.

But we were so sure
We would change the world…

By Senior year, MNM had become a glorified small group for mostly us and an addition or two.  None of us could quite figure out if it was of our own doing (if we weren’t trying hard enough to keep this ministry together) or if MNM had already served God’s purpose within a certain timeframe.  Was God ready for us to move on to something else or were we being negligent in something God had entrusted to us?  I suppose we’ll never know.  I know that for a second there, we were certain we were doing everything we could to “change the world” and it was glorious (the word “glorious” is not used roughly here).  It was life as it was meant to be…and then some.

I get a bit misty-eyed and nostalgic thinking back on all of it.  Thinking of four young dudes catching a wave and riding it hard and fast and then slowly making their own different ways to different parts of the shore.  I loved being out there in the water with those guys.  I dream and pray that you experience some sort of community like that at some point in your life.  I hope that you get to dive out further than you’ve ever been before.  You don’t need to know how to swim.  You just have to be kind-of okay with swallowing a little water while you learn how.

And I miss you boys, but this [the life I’m living right now] ain’t bad at all

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2 responses to “Great Lake Swimmers

  • Zach Dillon

    I can clearly see why those lyrics stuck out to you. They clearly hit a chord at the center of my experience as well. Especially the line: “we were so sure we would change the world.” I often look back at periods wishing I could have done more. What if I was able to redo high school with the knowledge I have know? Think how many lives I could change. College. Work. The pattern continues. The only thing that has made this pessimistic view ok is knowing that God is in control. Knowing that he may be doing these that I can’t even see. Knowing that he may be using my failures to build in me the characteristics needed for future success. Knowing that in the end, saving the world is not my responsibility or even my job. Knowing that Jesus really didn’t start saving the world until he was over 30. Knowing that the end of his life appeared to be a complete failure and yet had a ripple effect that actually did ‘save the world.’ The giant ego in me always wants to believe that God has huge plans for me, but recently I have been accepting humility and acknowledging that all I am really built for is loving God and I rarely even succeed at that. Praise God, that he has not put me in charge of saving the world.

  • adam

    i love this article. you completely understood why i sent along those lyrics…in the song, andrew osenga is reflecting on his time with ‘the normals’ and lamenting the dismantling of the band through life events (the band was not making any money, and when members of the band began to get married they couldn’t afford to keep playing music).

    i think what i like most about your writing, bobby, is what i like most about the song. it asks the question ‘why, if i am doing something i love, something that is honoring to God…why would God take that away?’

    but, there is no clear answer for why the normals no longer produce great music the same way there is no clear answer why Monday Night Manhood fizzled. we just have to appreciate those momnents as gifts from the Lord and enjoy the places life has taken us to now…

    ‘i miss you boys, but this ain’t bad at all’.

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