Going home simultaneously feels familiar and foreign. Traveling back to my roots and my hometown in Nebraska reminds me that few things stay the same. And yet, some things never change.
Though many of the changes in my hometown are positive and full of hope–I still find a part of me mourns the change. I think I want to preserve something in this life that feels ever familiar. Nostalgia I guess. In theory, isn’t that why so many people romanticize going home? They dream about their mom’s cooking or drive by the old house they lived in for 30 years. But instead they find the house remodeled and repainted a horrid color by the current occupants. Is it too much to want a touchstone, an anchor in life that doesn’t change beneath us in a world of shifting sands?
Maybe it is why our faith should be in our everlasting God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
This shifting also happens with people. We make the mistake of assuming someone will never change. (This frequently destroys marriages–“She just changed.”) The truth is that we are all constantly changing, growing, evolving–not just our physical bodies, but emotionally, spiritually. and mentally. Life experiences shape us through deep joy, heart-wrenching grief, betrayal, confusion, success, failure, and so much more.
I thought about this a lot when we went to see my grandparents. Our decision to travel to Nebraska centered a great deal around visiting them. They always stood before me as pillars of strength and perseverance. And they still do. But time and age stole their energy and left them with all the mental desire, but bodies in utter rebellion.
At 88 and 91 no one likes to think too far into the future. My mom hangs onto the hope of complete recovery, and everyone else watches nervously. I feel like we are all sand bagging a dam that is threatening to break. Hugging their frail frames and squeezing their hands cloaked in thin skin, I want to soak in every moment – every story my grandpa remembers, every phone call my grandma makes.
I want these touchstones to always be there. My grandma making deep fried hotcakes in her ancient electric skillet in greater quantities than anyone could ever hope to eat. My grandpa driving me around Kearney in his truck, noting the changes and developments, and stopping to buy gas station cappuccinos that we have to drink and dispose of before we go back to see grandma.
I hold fast to hope and cherish every moment of this chapter with them. They are strong-willed and have conquered many an ailment and obstacle. I am not trying to rush the final chapter.
But when I see my grandpa struggle to stand or my grandma mention with disgust for the 15th time how tired she feels all the time, I think of the promise in Isaiah 40:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Someday we will all shirk off these bodies that ache and grow old when renewal washes over us. God will gather to himself all who chose to follow him. When this world feels dark, or loss presses in on my heart, I always hold fast and remember there is more. There is more to this story. The Bible brims with hope for the renewal that will set all things right. And when that happens, then we will truly be home.