of uncle rico and the glory days

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This is a guest post by a friend of mine, a woman I love and admire. Her name is Brady Wharton.

In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon’s uncle, Uncle Rico, is painted as quite an outrageous character. He is a scruffy, middle-aged man who chooses to spend the majority of his time talking and boasting about his high school football glory days. What he could have done differently, the hero plays he made, the ways he maneuvered around his opponents . . . the list goes on. At first glance he seems to be an unrealistic and ridiculous character. If you have ever seen the movie, like me, you probably wanted to say to him, “Get over it! Your football career was over 40 years ago!”

At a closer look, however, I am a little more like Uncle Rico than I would ever care to admit. Ever since I graduated college almost three years ago, I have been missing college. Maybe even as quickly as a day after my commencement, those four years become the glory days. College was everything. College was when I first began to walk with Jesus, realized the depth of my sin, and began spiritual disciplines on a regular basis. College was when I made deeper friendships than I ever knew were possible. College was when I finally conquered my fear of being out on the dance floor. And the list goes on. I often pine after those times. If I could just go back, I could regain the intimacy I had with Jesus. If I could just go back, then dance parties and all-nighters would be a part of my regular routine again. If I could just go back, then those deep gal pal friendships would be re-ignited. Just let me go back!

Within the last couple of weeks, I have realized how flawed that thinking is. I have realized the desperate need I have to be content. To say in my heart of hearts with Paul in Philippians 4, “I have learned to be content in all circumstances”. To stop romanticizing the past and embrace the here and the now. Rather than struggling to chew on “3-year-old stale bread”, to say with a genuine heart, “give me this day my daily bread”.

Though this thinking is flawed, I believe most people struggle with it in some respect. There is a little Uncle Rico in all of us. To desperately want to re-live the glory days or to anxiously chase after the good times awaiting us in the future. For the single person, “If I could just meet ‘the one’, then I would be happy”. For the overworked and close-to-retirement person, “If I could just make it five more years, I will finally be content”. For the parents of three young children, “If we could just go back to pre-children life, then we could be at peace and live the laid-back life we used to”. For the person going through a terrible trial or sickness, “Man, life used be good before this happened”.
How radical would it be to just wholeheartedly embrace where God has us right now? To realize that circumstances and people and events are not what lead to happiness. Our relationship with God is. In the dreary, boring season, in the exciting and new season, in the terrible tumultuous season, His presence is the constant. It is there that he promises “fullness of joy”.

These last couple of weeks, I have learned that it is okay to look back on certain seasons of life with great fondness and to reflect and thank God for His faithfulness during those times. However, instead of pining after the yester-years, I have now shifted my focus to embracing and thanking God for what he has for me. Right here. Right now. It is quite freeing to not want desperately to go back but instead to simply enjoy where I am. To reject my “Uncle Rico” character tendencies and instead embrace the character of the one who promises to be the “same yesterday, today and forever.”

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3 Responses to of uncle rico and the glory days

  1. Laurie says:

    Well said, Brady Wharton. You are wise beyond your years… And you will see much more fruit by viewing them in this light! Blessings, friend! 🙂

  2. Krystiana says:

    This is wonderful. As a student two weeks from graduation, and already catching myself viewing college that way, thank you for telling truth.

  3. dajlindemann says:

    I was following your writing here for awhile after finding the Advent readings several years ago and being blessed to use those with my kids. I miss your writining and assume you have made the big move, both real life and blogging. I hope that is going well! I will be happy if you ever pop up here again. Thank you for sharing many things that encouraged!
    Jenn

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