Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coming Home

Coming home is always weird.

Perhaps you can relate to these sentiments as you drive down old streets, run into past classmates, hang out with your high school friends, and revisit the memories of your former self. Unfortunately, the feelings that accompany such sentiments aren't always the warm fuzzy ones of nostalgia. In fact, I used to hate coming home.

I hated it because I didn't always like who I had been...and coming home reminded me of that person's existence. I'd rather forget that person had ever been a part of me.

There's been something strangely refreshing about coming home this time around, though. It didn't hit me until Christmas Eve service, where my family returned to the church I had grown up in. We stopped attending that particular church when I was about thirteen, so it had been a while since I had been back. My brother, sister-in-law and I gave ourselves a tour prior to the service beginning. In the process of creeping through the dark hallways and empty rooms, there was an unlocking of several memories for me.

see.. who IS that little blonde-haired girl, anyway?
I was barely engaged in the actual service, as I looked around at many faces that I hadn't seen in over a decade. These people knew me as a small, blonde-haired little girl. These were the people that would say things like, 'I didn't even recognize you...', and, now that I'm older, I can actually appreciate the comments. How many times in my own life have I gasped in disbelief at how old someone now is?

I realized that this church held pieces of me. It held memories for me. And as we wandered around, it was as though these vague memories in my mind were slowly becoming realities once again. It wasn't just how I imagined it was... it was actually how it was. It was a delight! It was affirmation that these things happened, that they were real, that they played a valuable role in who I am today.

The same feelings have washed over me as I've reminisced with old friends and also my family. Beyond the catching each other up to speed on what our lives currently look like, there's always moments of remembering the past. These memories, through these friendships, are affirmed as real... and I love that. I love that shared experiences can bring us back into moments that we begin to think we only made up in our minds. I love that while the details can be fuzzy, through the 'Wait! Didn't it happen like this....' and the 'I thought that he said this...' we are slowly able to paint a picture of how it all actually played out.

And while I don't always love who I was during my childhood, adolescent and teenage years (or early twenties or even late twenties...)..I think there's something beautiful to acknowledging that each of those things have played a part in making me who I am today. They're a part of my story. It's a story that I don't want to forget simply because I'm scared of looking at the harsh realities of who I once was. More than ever, I find myself wanting to open the doors of my past, wanting to revisit the good, the bad, the ugly... and allow for the truth of how I've changed to be most prevalent. The truth of how the gospel has transformed, redeemed, and saved me.

I don't want to run from my past.
I don't want to run from who I was.
I don't want to lock away all the bad things I've ever done or been and pretend like they don't exist. I think it's good for us to be aware of those things, to even be reminded of those things... and to live in the fullness of the changed people that we are.

Coming home is weird.
But weird doesn't have to be bad.

If you're anything like me, I hope that coming home can be met with positivity instead of negativity (as mine has typically been in the past). I hope you're able to embrace the fullness of who you are, acknowledging that all events of your past have brought you to this place. They aren't the things that define you, but they are things that are part of you. The Lord has used it all and is intrinsically weaving it all together to make everything beautiful in its time.

There's much to hope in. Much to be excited about. No matter where you come from, what you've done, who you've been....

Don't run from it. Don't hide it. Don't be ashamed of it.
Let the fullness of your story radiate, as you let the reason for your hope and redemption shine through the darkest parts of your past.

Somewhere, somehow, in some way...
Jesus makes it okay.

I hope we can be a people who truly believe that.

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