March 16, 2014
Today was a long day. A dark day, literally, the sun did not shine through the clouds. Jachin and I were having a particularly rough day, so figuratively it was a dark day for us too. That is a major understatement, but the details of our rough day is not what I am writing about. Maybe one day that story will be told, but not today. So anyways, I called over someone to watch the girls so we could take our problems elsewhere. So we drove. Of course we drove through the Starbucks drive thru first, duh. And then I just drove and drove, not knowing where I was going. Similar to our lives, we just don’t know where we are going. I curved around the familiar streets of North Dallas and turned into my old neighborhood—the one where I spent most of my childhood. It’s funny that I live less than five minutes from this neighborhood, but have driven through it only a few times in the last decade. I weaved though the streets: the ones where I learned to drive, the ones where I walked down to my grandma’s apartment when I was “running away from home”, the ones where I walked to school back and forth, the ones that lead to the creek we would play in, the ones where we played with friends day in and day out. I drove by my old house. All the houses around it looked different than what I remembered. In fact, most of them are ugly, as a result of being built in the late seventies, early eighties. But my mom has great taste when it comes to building houses, and our old house looks classic. It looked the same as in my memory. But the other houses did not. For some reason they all looked smaller, or uglier, or just not how I remembered. I remembered who lived in each house, well sort of. I could remember the faces of all my neighbors, but their names slowly but surely keep fading in my memory.
I drove down the street and turned the corner and drove the two blocks to my elementary school. I remember thinking the walk was unbelievably long, and how could my mom be so mean to make me walk? People, it couldn’t be any closer. I mean two blocks! I drove through the front drop off circle and stopped. I looked at the concrete benches and I remembered the days and days and days that I came out those front double doors. I was never a fan of school, but that was a good school, and it was kind to me. I continued down the other side of the creek, drove by the houses of my childhood friends, and again, could not think of their names. I remembered their birthday parties, their swingsets, and their kitchen tables, but not their names. Memories are a funny thing.
And then I stopped and parked.
I parked next to the creek at a park Jachin and I used to go to when we were dating. We would walk along the path, sit and talk on the swings, and walk down by the creek. All these memories flooded my already flooded brain, but brought peace. We didn’t have real problems those days. I didn’t have real problems when I was mad that I had to walk to school, or when I couldn’t decide which neighbor to play with. My memories of my childhood are that I was endlessly happy, and I rested in that memory for a moment. Jachin was not picking up on this nostalgia, because to be honest, he is just not that way. But it helped me regroup a little, which in turn, helps him regroup a little.
There were definitely hard things in my childhood, but I often forget while raising my kids that hard things in their childhood are good. I worry that things are too hard for my kids, but that is far from the truth. Children are growing sponges, looking for truth, and they have to have hard things in order to build character, just like the rest of us. If we try and protect our children from every hard thing, we are ruining them. Children look for God in the dark days, just like us. So while we sat there, I rested in that moment of remembering my childhood, knowing that my children will rest in the comfort of simple things. I rested in the good that was there in my childhood and the good that followed me into adulthood. I rested in the fact that although my problems were presently very real, the sun does come out again.
It always does.
The sun has never failed to reappear.
We don’t always know when it will come back, but it does come back, it comes through the clouds and even when the clouds are there, the sun is there too, we just can’t see it, or feel it. But it is there.
Often, people don’t believe the sun is there, or that it will come back out. But it is a truth, it is there.
Jachin and I talked a little while we sat in the car by the creek, but he is a man of few words, and words don’t really help him. In fact, words don’t help a lot of people. Love does. Grace does. Presence does. But words are not often remembered. Just like the names are not necessarily remembered, but the people are.
I have a sweet friend at church, her name is Sue. She sends cards. I don’t remember what was written on any single note from my friend Sue, but I will never forget that she sends me cards all the time. And they encourage me and help me remember that people care. So even though I don’t remember certain specifics of my childhood, I remember that people cared, and that my parents cared. And they sacrificed for me, and they survived hard days for me, and they did not give up.
And I will not give up either.
To be honest, today, I gave up for a little while. Thankfully, I have loving people in my life and I texted a few of them and said I was giving up. And they texted back and said oh no you will not. Not specifically in those words, but they texted prayers, and kind words, and, “when can we come over” and “we will drop everything to be there for you”. And they called and listened to me crying and said comforting things. And that in turn helped me to choose kindness and helped me to put my anger aside and not give up.
The day is over, we will see the sun tomorrow, and tonight we will sleep (after we watch a movie wrapped in each others arms). We have memories of goodness and we have knowledge of truth, so we will carry on. With what is left of our memories and with what memories we want to make.
Memories are a funny thing, and I believe in funny, you know.