Saturday, September 01, 2018

Happy birthday, Regan

Today is 01 September, the birthday that I share with my twin brother, Regan. Regan recently married Rachel at a lovely, small ceremony with family and friends at the Angel Church. I had prepared a speech, but the layout of the restaurant where we ate later did not really allow for speeches, so gladly forewent the opportunity. I would however, like to offer it here, in love and respect for my brother.

Good afternoon.....
My speech may be a bit shorter than expected. I have just noticed that the hand written version you gave me, Regan a couple of minutes ago is virtually unreadable. Really sorry. I can kind of make out the gist of the first paragraph - basically Regan is an all round good guy, with which I basically agree, but the rest... looks like I’m going to have to do my own thing! 

Regan has always been extremely competitive. So too have I for that matter. In sport, when we played on teams together, we put everything into it working together for a win. That’s not to say we always found ourselves on the winning side, just that if our other teammates had had the same mentality, we actually would have won. It really wasn’t so bad... There was that season of basketball as children where we lost every single game. Our coach, not being rude but accurate of his stats, a loser, claimed the game was all about having fun. Regan’s response was something along the lines of “how is losing fun? It’s fun when we win.” That mentality has stayed with him. 

Worse though than losing to some team of strangers, was losing to me. When Batman and Superman fought each other in the unimaginatively titled film “Batman vs Superman”, it was described as “The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world”. Whoever said that had never seen us. Neither would stop, but especially not Regan if he was losing. A look at his medical history would show he did not always fare well. Here he is looking glum after some accident or other required some bandaging for his forehead.

There are plenty of episodes like this through his life. 

Some here might recall three serious dislocations and two surgeries in his teenage years, the initial damage being done the first two times in games of one on one basketball with me. This was simply the culmination of competitions between the two of us where he fared poorly going back to a broken arm at age four after a conflict with me over a stick and related tumble down the stairs. He just wouldn’t let go. 

Please Don’t feel the least bit sorry for him. Look at him here in his sling enjoying an ice cream.

Despite all of this, he still approached things with the mentality that he was the best. He may have been a winner with me, though he was less certain about that. A few years ago when we did the Bear Grylls survival race and started jogging off, I suggested we stick together to help one another out on the obstacles. Ryan, I actually have a chance of winning this thing, he said, abandoning me to a tortuous 5 k on my own. He was, at least in his mind definitely a winner when against me. Even when he wasn’t... So I’ve been really looking forward to today. Such a landmark. A real milestone. I don’t want to undermine the significance of his marriage to Rachel, which is a very nice bonus, but he finally has admitted that I am in fact, the best man. 

Bold is a good word to describe Regan. Showing a willingness to take risks, confident and courageous. Regan the sportsman I’ve mentioned. There’s also Regan the explorer. As with sports, what we did we did together. We enjoyed climbing trees from the age of four...exploring creeks and woods from the age of eight. We spent countless hours riding our bikes down wooded trails, immersed in the beauty of nature. And after moving to London, enjoyed getting to know our new and very different surroundings. Regan has never seemed phased by such things. One possibly could have been surprised by a younger child Regan wouldn’t ride certain rollercoasters but I was quite happy to.  Regan wouldn’t jump from the edge of the swimming pool into Dad’s arms and when he finally did would hold on for dear life. The ripples and waves in the water he thought somehow were shark fins. He grew out of that. There are many more serious ways into which young, bold Regan developed. Regan the political activist for example. This was quite odd to me. For years Regan took little interest in politics, while I did. But for several years he has worked in jobs that have seen him campaign and even help lead campaigns and projects with Keep Marriage Special and Christian Concern. Meanwhile I have not ventured beyond my local residents association. Bold as these projects - campaigning to defend marriage or creating a pregnancy counselling database - are, in human terms though the boldest things Regan have done involved the church specifically this church. Regan was instrumental in the earliest days of planting several churches but wherever else he helped, from the age of fifteen, the church here in Angel was Regan’s church....

Dr. Martin Luther King once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands  
in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Time and again Regan has proven his measure.

Regan never knew how to give up. He might have felt like quitting, but it was never a serious possibility thus not an option for him. In sports, the team we played on always was in it with a chance and he would give the match everything till the final whistle blowed. When watching sports even, it was as though he thought his energy could somehow be channelled or the team he was watching via the telly. I’ll never forget his sobbing at the end of sporting events. Ones he was watching on telly. The 2006 England vs Portugal World Cup loss for example - if I had the tech to hand I would play a video of Ronaldo winking at Rooney. He might not be the type of guy to have wept as Rachel walked down the aisle, but that would break him. 

I jest in love. Regan is in life to win, not just here and now but eternally. And winning sometimes involves losing. Regan is no stranger to loss. He has experienced pain far worse that the broken bones and bodily ailments that have hospitalised him and losses, believe it or not that are far greater than losing to me, the best man. But God has brought him through such valleys, in his pastoral and personal life, and moves him ever toward victory in Christ the Lord, who has saved him from his sins and leads him ever onward. He is running the race and fighting the fight of faith, and there is a crown of righteousness that is laid up for him. I know this though, not because Regan doesn’t give up, but more importantly because God does not give up and Regan trusts in him.
A very happy birthday, Regan!


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