When asked “What is the favorite part about our church?” some children will say “doughnuts.” I’m OK with that because when adults are asked the same question, they will often say “fried chicken.” My sermon is way down the list, somewhere a notch below “clean bathrooms.”
Sheri said that when she was a kid, the church she attended had a “Doughnut Incentive Plan.” In 3rd grade you got a half a doughnut, but in 4th grade you got a whole doughnut. Her goal in life was to get to the 4th grade. Kids today would lead a revolt if we had only a half doughnut.
Sheri remembered her childhood doughnuts, Shipley’s, as being delicious. Shipley’s is a popular doughnut brand in her home state of Texas. They were delicious enough to inspire 3rd graders to live one more year.
On a trip to Texas, we saw a Shipley’s Do-Nut Shop. We almost caused a pile-up trying to change lanes to get to their parking lot. Sheri was hyper-ventilating over the pleasure that would come from the doughnuts of her childhood. I didn’t think it was worth risking life and limb for a doughnut delight. I was right.
The doughnut that she remembered so fondly as a kid was not as good as she remembered. Now that she was older and her taste buds had enjoyed Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts, her Texas brand wasn’t quite up to their standards.
Will Rogers once said, “Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never were.”
None of us have a memory that is perfect. Memory leaks. I went back to Lucedale, MS for a funeral a few years ago. I had been youth minister there some time ago. Some of the youth in my youth group I had not seen in 35 years. Marcie was one of those. When she walked into the funeral home, I immediately recognized her. “Marcie,” I said, “great to see you.”
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Steve Davis,” I said.
“Who’s that?” she exclaimed.
The memory leaks.
Sometimes we hide bad stuff in memories. Stuff like pain and abuse we hide in the memory so that no one can see it, and so that we won’t be hurt again. Not a good idea to hide stuff in your memory.
We also sometimes re-write the memory. We turn the unpleasant memory into pleasant ones by rewriting history or as the case with Shipley’s Do-Nuts, we idolize the past beyond what it was.
The Apostle Paul, who never once tasted a doughnut, said, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press on…” Did Paul mean we should erase our memories? I don’t think so. I think he means we should not be bound by them. We should let go and focus on the present and the future. Our memory takes us back to launch us forward.
By the way, when Sheri was asked about her favorite part of our church, she always said, “the sermon.” Everything is bigger in Texas, even the lies.