Once a month I travel back to a place and time, that is recent yet so long ago. In this place, I see remnants of what used to be…the good and the not-so-good, the honest and the not-so-honest, with relations divided by race, gender, and religion. The thing is, back in this place where progress seems to move slower than time, I see goodness, I see God…He’s in the grass, He’s in the trees, and He’s in the people. There’s bond between neighbors and family, people are connected and their lives are intertwined in ways that I have only experienced in that time and that space. These pockets of time and space are most likely not limited to just my personal experiences; however, they do seem to be rare. Each month as the time approaches when I journey back once again, it is met with some hesitation as I force myself to return to places of great sorrow and of complicated growing pains. My journey takes me back to emotions of my youth feeling awkward as a teenager and often never really feeling like I fit in. I don’t think that God orchestrated a series of bad or unpleasant circumstances to happen in my life for pain or strife; its was for my growth and preparation of things to come. God has blessed me with many opportunities for me to experience great joy and enormous pain, pain at a depth I surely thought would at times consume me. There are secret pains that drift in and out like a summer’s early morning dew. These things remain hidden, draped in misguided shame and guilt. There are times traveling back to where these secrets and scars were formed, all I want to do is retreat back to the life, I now live. Even amid the shadows of my life experiences, I feel freer today than I have ever in my entire life. I am not sure of how or when or if I will ever make complete sense of the experiences of my youth and my life thus far. What I do know for sure is that if this is the road that I must journey that God has set before me, then I pray for His constant companionship and for the comfort of His spirit, as I persevere. So many people in this world suffer daily because of secrets, because of bullying, and because of shame. These behaviors remain prevalent today because of fear! People are afraid to trust and let someone in, there is almost always a price for sharing ones stories. For anyone who has ever been sworn to secrecy, I can honestly say, it’s a very lonely place to be and an outrageous and unfair responsibility. These exploiters of trust, they demand secrecy and do so by building false securities with individuals that are trusting and perhaps even naive, who easily believe in the goodness of others and who are quick to easily trust people as they appear. They actively seem to be interested in us as people and potential friends…SNAP! “Hook, Line and Sinker!” So many of us fall for the false pretense of friendship and we find ourselves stuck right in the middle of a “secret.” A falsehood. “Hoodwinked!” To this day, if I were to meet one of my ” so-called “friends (exploiters)” I am not sure how or even if I would confront them. Partly due to the misguided information and self-imposed guilt and shame, this reluctance has more to do with me, the person I have become and recognizing that holding a grudge only keeps me from joy and me from living. God has done so much for me and I know in my heart to put my trust in Him, knowing He only wants goodness for me. I admit, this is at times difficult, always true but difficult nonetheless. There are so many who suffer in silence everyday, these individuals are afraid to open the slightest crack into their lives and let someone in because it would mean that someone else might learn of their secrets, their faults, their insecurities, their fears…you see that’s the thing about secrets, the harder we try to contain it, the stronger the hold it has on our lives. People who place demands upon relationships that require secrecy are rarely done for our protection but for theirs. Those demands are not based upon shared trust, they are created from a place of power and control. These people live by a different standard with different rules they are what black holes are to space, they pretend to love us, they pretend to be our friends and in the end we are merely a means to their end. God has given me a perspective that for many years either I ignored or was too scared to trust God but I can see now the crossroad, this crossroad to continue living in darkness, shame and misguided truths or turning towards God where the path may not always be as smooth as I would like; however, it will always be truthful and filled with light. These roads are often filled with boulders, stones, pebbles and ruts, all designed to mold us into in the spiritual beings God created us to be. Crossroads are decisions, pivotal moments in our lives. We look in one direction and see…wow this is going to be a luxurious trip, I can walk, I can skip, I can run, I can rest and or just relax because it’s beauty filled with sunny, green grass and a babbling brook. Got the visual? Okay, now to view the other option, you know the rocks, pebbles and ruts…hardships. God tells us upfront, it won’t be easy but you will never be alone, NOT ever. We are reminded by scripture that we are not meant to remain on this earth forever, we are destined for a new heaven and a new earth where we will be in constant jubilation with all the saints and believers. To some this may sound very much like a fairytale and maybe that’s why most of us connect with fairy tales, with their happily ever after’s. After all, that’s precisely what God wants for us, He wants to not merely give us happily ever after, He wants to BE our happily ever after, forever!
“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” ~C.S.Lewis
Luke 8:17 “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
Revelation 21:1-4 “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Vulcan Salute, “Live long and prosper.” followed with “Peace and long life.”