It took six hours of driving crisscrossing two states, but Saturday I went home. Ironically, it never involved the physical abode where I lived from age two. It did, however, involve the family that God used to mold and shape the woman I am today.
Our day started with my baby cousin's wedding. Eleven years younger than me, we lived next door to one another our entire childhoods. I remember distinctly the day she came home from the hospital and how much she once loved for me to fix her hair.
The afternoon event was a reunion of sorts for my mother's very large extended family. As I looked around at four generations of aunts, uncles, nieces/nephews who have taken different life paths I still felt the stability that comes from roots. I was reminded how even the most diverse families are grounding. Like rings on a tree, so much of our identity comes from our back stories.
|My Mom, in yellow, and her siblings with the bride|
I wondered what goes through my sweet Grandmama's head as she takes it all in, filing it in her memory bank that is approaching 90 years. She has certainly seen a lot. Through it all, the highest highs and the lowest lows, she knows from experience that God does not change and life will go on.
After the wedding, my husband & I drove 90 miles to my 20th class reunion party in Columbus, Georgia. I was nervous, but truly it was surprisingly comforting to be back in the presence of so many that I loved so much (and who loved me very well) in my formative years. Their fingerprints are all over my life.
I had a particularly solid group of friends--guys and girls--that had fun, but kept each other accountable. We were goody goodies, actually dubbed 'the cross posse' by some of our wilder peers back in the day. While I hope the last two decades of life and maturity have taught me to be a bit less of a Pharisee, I am exceedingly grateful for the role these grounded friends (and their parents) played in my foundational years. I didn't realize how much I missed them until we were together again.
Reflecting on the reunion, I was left with a special appreciation for my guy friends. Their adolescent friendship taught me much about how males and females communicate in emotionally healthy ways. It set me up to expect respectfulness from males. I could recount defining points during my late teens when a wise word of Truth spoken from the perspective of a male friend was just what my female soul needed.
I also couldn't help but be challenged by the stories people told of high school that I have no recollection of at all--and vice versa. We were all formed and changed by different events and relationships. Circumstances that seemed overwhelming at the time are now nothing more than stories we tell. I welcome this reminder in tough situations. The only thing certain about life is that it will go on.
"It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time." -Barbara Kingsolver
My middle aged heart holds many memories. I loved my life 20 years ago...but I'll take 37 over 17 any day of the week. I want to be a good steward of what God has done in this life so far. He isn't finished by any stretch. It has been an incredible ride. I want to look back to remember the faithfulness of God & look forward in faith to the rest of the story He has written.