Thomas Wolfe Was Right

I have to admit I’ve never read Thomas Wolfe’s book “You Can’t Go Home Again”. So I can’t say for sure what he was talking about when he titled his book. I’m guessing a whole lot of people today, have never read his book, as it was originally published in 1940. Yet, the title still gets bandied about quite a bit.

Sure, depending on our age, we may have known for quite some time that that title was a true statement. You do however get to a point in your life where you really realize how true that statement is. I went “home” to the state I was raised in this past week to visit family. While I was there my husband and I took an afternoon to drive through the town I grew up in and to visit some old landmarks.

We drove by both of my grandmother’s old house’s, the place where my house used to be, old schools and hangouts and friend’s houses. It had been a while since I’d been to some of those places and none of them looked quite the way they did when I was growing up. Well, needless to say of course they didn’t. New people move in, they paint, they change things. Roads change, tree’s grow, and life happens. We aren’t the same person we used to be so why would we assume everything else would be stay the same?

That day we did end up at the cemetery. It’s a peaceful place on a hill. Quiet and well kept. I have so many memories there. Not just of funerals, but also of many Memorial Day parades and ceremony’s that I had taken part in over the years. And memories of  planting flowers  on the graves with my mom and sometimes my grandmother.  I hadn’t been up there in several years. I’m not one of those people who goes to visit graves and thinks my loved ones are actually in that place.

We drove to my parent’s graves, also to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins graves. And with some help from my brother, we also found some great, great grandparents graves. Standing there looking over all the graves it was like a parade of memories from the past. Seeing the stones of family friends long gone, or the parents of some of my classmate’s and their families. Seeing the names of many people I hadn’t thought of in years. Some, that I hadn’t even realized had died. I have to say it felt very peaceful there that afternoon.

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I have been back to that town many times over the last sixteen years since I moved away to live in other states. I’m not sure why this particular visit was so different.

Recently I had such a vivid dream about my Dad’s Mom. She’s been gone for forty years now. In my dream, she was still alive and she came to my door. I just wept, as I hadn’t know where she was or that she was alive. I think that dream was part of what prompted me to go back and see some of those places during my visit. 

Maybe what made this time hard was just the sense of time having passed so quickly, and seeing so many of life’s changes. Maybe part of it is that when we don’t see people for a while, we tend to remember the way they looked when we last saw them, then we see them again we realize they have aged right along with us. It can be good to go back and see places and people as long as we realize we can never go back to the way things were.

Our last day there as we were heading out of town, we stopped at a Chinese restaurant where we used to meet my Mom and one of my cousins when we would come to visit. We had so many happy memories there of love and lots of laughter.

As we were sitting there in that restaurant we realized a couple of things. One was that the food was not as we remembered it. That, we could have overlooked. The most important thing we realized was that even though we were eating in a favorite old haunt, it felt sad and not the same. We so missed those loved ones that we used to share a meal with, who were no longer with us. They were a big part of what made the place special. Without the people we had shared our meals with, it was just another Chinese Restaurant in small town America. 

We can’t go home again because there’s no way we can go back and relive those times in our memories. Often, the people or places we remember may have changed or gone, and all that we have left is our memories. I’m sure that you, like me, often look back at your memories through rose colored glasses. No two of us would remember things in exactly the same way. We sometimes selectively remember things the way we would like to remember them.

The Bible says in Isaiah 43:18-19 ““Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”

Always good advice of course. Perhaps we all know people who at some point in their lives become fixated with living in the past or they just can’t let go of things that have happened. Hopefully, we know that if we want to move forward in the things of God, we may have to let go of those things we are holding onto that might be  the very things holding us back. 

I do think it’s okay to go back and re-visit the past some times. Just as long as we are only visiting, and not letting our past keep us from our future. I think it can be good to go back and remember, to take stock of who we were back then and how we got to where we are now. Perhaps we have something we need to learn from the past. Then we can take from it that lesson we learn and look ahead to what’s in store for us. We may not be able to go home again, but we can make a new home for the memories we’re making now.

 

 

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It’s Time To Come Out Of Hiding

It’s interesting to me how the Lord uses all kinds of different things in our lives to show us the things He wants us to see. Often, it can be something we read in the Word, but He also uses our everyday normal things. He may use a conversation you have with someone, a dream you dream, a book you read, a song you hear or even a TV show you watch.

I started writing a very different blog earlier this week on emotions and the roller coasters they can sometimes be. I have since discarded it. Not that it didn’t speak to things we may all go through at times but it was about negative emotions and I think enough of my time has been spent on them lately. When you’re on that roller coaster ride that just keeps bringing you further and further down; you know it’s time to get off that ride! 

I was reading a book this week about a woman who had  issues in her marriage. In a nut shell, her problems became public, creating embarrassment and caused her to move with her son to another town. Her plan all along was to  hole up in the house she had rented, work from home, go out only when she had to and basically hide from the world. Of course had the book ended there, it wouldn’t have been much of a story.

She had a meddlesome old woman living next door who managed to get involved in her life whenever she could. At the same time she was constantly involving the main character in the lives of everyone who lived with her or worked for her. Usually against her will. Needless to say that really annoyed her. Until the end of the book of course.

In the end, the old woman died, and the main character finds out her story about how others had risked their lives to hide her sister and her during the holocaust. Its then that she comes to realize why the woman had always tried to help these broken people the way she did. Through learning all this she realized she was also one of those broken people, and this woman had recognized it and given her such a gift. She learned that distancing herself  from people and hiding was not what she truly needed. She found that it was only through helping others and allowing them to help her, and through learning to relate to others that she truly became whole again.

I know that was a really quick summary of the story but I wanted to set the stage. The book really impacted me. It caused me to look at the situations and people in the book symbolically, and relate them to myself and to many of us today.  Many of us, even though we aren’t trying to live in hiding like this woman, have still been in hiding in our own way, for much of our life. 

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We have perhaps been hiding behind walls of our own making. Somewhere in the past something happened to make us believe that we would be far safer behind our walls, with our emotions held safely in check. Oh sure, we still smile, we laugh, we hurt but we do it carefully and we keep our strongest emotions bottled up. Often our belief may be that we don’t even really have a lot of emotion.

Perhaps we tell ourselves, or others that we just aren’t outwardly emotional people. Meanwhile we watch, and we observe from a safe distance. We don’t always participate or let others get too close. We congratulate ourselves that we are safe behind our walls where nothing can hurt us.

Yet all the while, we fail to realize those aren’t walls we have built around ourselves. They are bars. In an effort to keep from getting hurt we have put ourselves in exile and bondage. We have not only kept our emotions bottled up but our very lives. Sure we may have missed out on some hurt, but at the same time we may have somehow missed out on true joy or peace or happiness. And yes, at times we’ve missed out on even allowing ourselves to feel the full extent of hurt and loss that we need to feel so we can then feel release and be able to move on. 

I remember a time someone close to me was going through a time of deep hurt in their life. In part due to the actions of another person. They were letting this person know how much they had hurt them and what they were going through. My comment was “why would you give anyone the satisfaction of letting them know how you feel? Or how they’ve hurt you?” Like them telling someone about their feelings was somehow wrong.

Jesus came to set the captives free. Even those who are captives of their own making. This is not a thus saith the Lord, but I believe that the Lord is calling many to come out from hiding and show others our true selves. Even if that means we have to learn who we are first. Jesus came not just that we would have life, but that we would have and enjoy life and to have it abundantly. As told to us in John 10:10.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is “A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn,
And a time to dance. There is a hurting world out there and they don’t need us hiding behind our walls. That helps no one including us. They need us to be ready to help, and to participate in life again, and to feel 
what they are feeling right along with them. Whether it be weeping or joy.

If you’ve been unable to locate your emotions, ask the Lord for His help. He will help you find them again. You know those ways I mentioned earlier, that the Lord  can use to show us things? He used just about all of them this week to show me a few things.

First of course there was the book. Then I found myself weeping over a song though I had no idea why. It wasn’t a particularly sad song. Though, it was talking about enjoying things before they are gone. Then on my favorite TV show one character tells another that she always hides her emotions behind her intellect (walls). Lastly this morning when I remembered a dream I had this morning, I started crying. I believe part of the dream perhaps symbolized something I had been missing for many many years. 

How about let’s open some of those prison doors. Being behind walls is a lonely place to be. 

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Light And Darkness

Sometimes I talk about animals and birds and such in my blog. The Lord seems to get my attention, and show me things using nature. Bugs are part of nature too I guess. Now if you don’t like bugs try and bear with me for a few minutes. But then, I mean really, unless you’re an entomologist or something, who does like bugs? Unless its like ladybugs or butterflies or something pretty like that. 

The bug I want to talk about today is the cockroach. All I need to do is to say that word and it makes your skin crawl right? Nasty, creepy, ugly, make you want to scream when you see you them, kind of bugs. Not something most of us want to get up close and personal with. Or even see from a distance. 

I was watching one the other day and taking note of their aversion to light. If you’ve ever had roaches in your house or garage or something you know what I mean. You turn on the light and they go slinking and scurrying away. That got me thinking. Isn’t sin just like that? John 3:20 “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

Sin hates the light. It hides in the dark and secret places to avoid exposure. It may be able to hide  from others for a while, but of course we know nothing is ever truly hidden. The Lord who sees our hearts and knows everything is never fooled. Jeremiah 23:24  “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the Lord“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.”

If you’re a  Christian and you’re trying to live like Jesus, I’m fairly sure you don’t start your day off by saying “what can I do today to sin”?  We do know that sin can be so deceiving, a slippery slope.

We can’t always see the sin in our own lives. Or, we don’t want to see it or to be told that in fact, it is sin. Often, it’s those behaviors or thoughts that we have been acting on for years, that are the things that trip us up most. Perhaps that’s why part of Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.”  

Have you noticed that while there are times we can so easily see the sin in others (and wonder why on earth they can’t), at the same time we are often so blind to our own? Not for naught did Matthew say in Chapter 7:3 “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” One would think a plank would be fairly noticeable, but apparently that’s not always so.

Sometimes we like to call our sins by other names because then they don’t sound quite so bad. Like those things we tell others that aren’t really true, while we say it is just “a little white lie”. Makes it sound cute right? Like little lies don’t count? What about those things we think or say about others, that surely don’t matter if the person doesn’t actually know you are gossiping about them. Or those things we put in front of our eyes and ears that we know we shouldn’t. It’s OK as long as we’re doing it in private, right? It’s not hurting anyone. No one knows what we’re doing. I could go on and on. So many ways to justify things we know we shouldn’t do.

Here in the south when people are talking about roaches, often they call them palmetto bugs. Very genteel. They almost sound interesting right? Like some kind of bug just hanging out on a palmetto plant. No one wants to call them what they really are. But guess what? You can dress them up and parade them across a stage, but a cockroach is still a cockroach, and a sin is still a sin.

If you have something going on in your life, and you’re telling yourself its really not a sin, but yet, you have an uneasy feeling about it, here’s an easy solution. Expose it to the light of God’s Word and then you will be able to see it for what it is. Right or wrong.

We are called to be children of light. Our goal should be to bring everything in our lives that is not pleasing to the Lord, to the light of His Word, and allow Him and the Word, to change us and our behaviors. Since we are representing Jesus, who gave His all for us, we should desire to embody Matthew 5:16 “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The Lord knows that we are not perfect, and we all make mistakes sometimes. All that is required of us, to get back into fellowship with the Lord is doing 1 John 1:7-9. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. “ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Lord is so good to us.

Isn’t it far better to run to the light instead of away from it?

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