This weekend has been good. I’ve hung out with some old friends from high school, I’ve enjoyed the familiar coastal weather, and I’ve spent time with my grandpa, someone who greatly appreciates the company. One thing that I know is looming over me, though, is the fact that I’m leaving tomorrow. Both my ride and I have somewhere to be tomorrow evening, so I don’t have much of an option. Part of me is okay with this, but part of me isn’t. Part of me sees the freedom that Eugene provides and it’s something I want to get back to. But the other part of me sees a man who has done so much for me in my life who’ll spend tomorrow night alone.
It’s hard every time I leave here because I just see my grandpa sitting in his chair watching TV with no one right there with him to talk to. He calls plenty of people and talks enough for five radio hosts, but he still lives alone. There’s something about the physical presence of another human being that intrinsically provides comfort and peace. You may not notice it or how to define it, but it’s there. It’s something I’ve longed for in the permanent sense, something that I believe a wife would provide just by being there, but it’s something that doesn’t need marriage to exist. It’s there between two friends, two brothers, two sisters, a daughter and mother, and between a father and son. And though he’s technically my grandfather, he’s filled the role of a father. He’s been the dad that I never had just like I and my brother have been the sons he never had. To know what he’s done for me, how much he loves me and how alone he usually is, it just breaks me.
Sometimes I hate being in Eugene because I’m not here in Lincoln City to be with my grandpa, to talk about baseball or about how we don’t want either Boston or LA to win the NBA championship or about the random game shows he watches that are older than me by two whole generations. And just the other night, we talked about the life my brother and I were forced to go through and how though it sucked and was very painful, we’ve still come out stronger because of it. What I should have said, but didn’t, was how much he contributed to make sure my brother and I had a fighting chance in this world. I wanted to tell him there hasn’t been a day where I wasn’t thankful, wasn’t grateful for who he is and what he’s done. I wanted to tell him that I wouldn’t be the man I am now if he hadn’t done all that he has. Why didn’t I? Why, when I had the prime opportunity, didn’t I tell him how much I’ve appreciated him? I can’t tell you because I don’t know. I just know that I nodded in agreement to what he said, as I usually do, and went about my day.
The only reason why I’ve been thinking about all these things is because I can see my life going in a direction away from him. I see myself growing further and farther from him and when I consider all that he has done, I’m broken. I think I have finally felt how hard it is to not look back when stepping forward to follow God. Every time I’ve read that verse in Luke where Jesus talks about not looking back (9:62), I always thought I understood what He meant by it. I always thought that I was fully aware of how hard it all is, but this weekend has taught me otherwise.
Coming back to Lincoln City with a lot of the familiar things and the wonder of the things that have changed brings about a longing for the past. I know that there probably is something in all our lives that creates yearning for the “good ole days” and the way things used to be. And I don’t want to say that it’s wrong to be nostalgic about certain things, but I do think it isn’t wise. I do think that we only create more problems for ourselves when we try to recreate the memories we have and still move forward with Jesus.
It seems to me that He’s more concerned with making newer memories with new people, new relationships, new settings, and the new life that He has given us. He doesn’t want us to think or believe that the old is now bad, but rather He wants us to move on into the life He’s prepared for us. And as I’m finding out this weekend, it’s tough. It’s tough to let everything go, to trust that God will take care of the people we’ve loved from our past, and sometimes to believe that He’s got something better in our futures. But I think what has been pushing me forward these last few weeks and especially this weekend is the memory of the past pain I’ve suffered. The loneliness I felt at night when I’d come home from school or work or practice. The depression I felt before I truly started to trust in God. Or even the past friendships and relationships that broke my heart. With as much as we want to believe that the “good ole days” are the most desirable days for our future, the harsh reality is that they are never as glamorous as we make them out to be. They’re incredibly bittersweet.
And this isn’t to say that our future is full of bliss and happiness, because certainly there will be painful moments, possibly more painful than anything we’ve gone through up to this point. But unlike the past, the future is where hope resides. You cannot change the past, no matter how much you want to. But you can take what you’ve learned from the past and fight to make a better future. These are all things that I’ve already known, but I think this weekend with all the memories has made it all sink in a little deeper.
My grandpa is still alive and kicking and probably will be (I hope) for some time to come. While he’s alive it wouldn’t be right for me to completely disconnect and move on. But I think it’d be worse for me to grip tighter to the life I’ve had with him and neglect the life that God has planned for me. Yesterday is desirable because it’s familiar and comfortable. Tomorrow is fearful because it isn’t. One thing that is, though, is God. I read through a chapter of Proverbs this morning and one verse that is familiar to many people, but contains a truth that must never be forgotten is 16:9; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” No matter how fearful tomorrow is, if we’re reacting to our hearts’ passions, God is there with us, guiding and leading us through the lives He’s planned, through the novels He’s written for us. We would mess it all up if we chose to cling to the last page or the page we loved the best. We wouldn’t let Him write better ones.