Like many of you this week, my husband, Bill, and I put up our Tree and Christmas decorations. Each ornament transported us to a distant time and place, a time when our children were little and our house was full. Tonight our house is way too big and way too empty. It’s different for those of us who have children who are actually grown adults, scattered across America … not living in our town. We don’t discuss it, we just keep putting up our family ornaments, lost in the same memories that we share. It is just too sad to speak the words, but as we glance at each other, we both know… Life has a way of rolling down the track without even giving us a second to hold the fragile moments before they are out of sight.
There is a new show on TV this year called This is Us. It is a heart-gripping, tear jerking story…that I love ! Our family also loves the show from years ago, The Wonder Years. One of my favorite things to do is watch it with the whole family … an emotionally risky venture. Bill and I love it because it is an accurate depiction of our lives growing up in America in the late 60’s and 70’s. A very unique time in our history- the growing up of America’s largest generation, the baby-boomers… who are now on the other side of their beginning. Every episode leaves me in tears with a lump in my throat as they cue the closing music and draw the narrated application.
The same heartfelt moments are life lessons that are so common to every generation, but also strangely, deeply personal to our hearts- each a unique interpretation of a common past. Lives lived in different places, different times, different centuries, different cultures, different everything, and yet so similar that the same chord strikes each of our hearts in the very same way at the very same time. Picture a Hallmark commercial…a daughter and daddy dancing at her wedding and then the camera flashes back to when she was a little girl dancing on top of her daddy’s feet…. There it is, the heart-strings is played and we all tear up at the same time as we each play our own personal movie inside our head- separate but shared experiences…what an interesting concept- parallel lives- completely separate but so nearly the same that we cry together at the same moments in life. Truly amazing.
Samuel Coleridge said; “Truths, of all others, the most awful and mysterious, yet being, at the same time, of universal interest, are too often considered as so true, that they lose all the powers of truth, and lie bedridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exposed errors.” That is deep waters.
We are all walking life’s pilgrim journey trying to find our way. We were all little and became big, living and loving, learning and growing, broken and breaking hearts, good decisions and terrible choices, hard times and perfect moments. Incalculable tears of laughter and sorrow.
Nostalgia is a strange thing that sneaks up on the unsuspecting heart- squeezes and releases bringing us to our knees upon reflection. It could be a song, a smell, a picture- just a flash really, but our soul is flooded with stories, people, vivid colors, distant but distinct memories, faces and places, joy and pain- all in a moment. Words spoken- breathing bits of life into us, or striking death blows on our once tender impressionable hearts. Either way, we carry these around with us as fragments of pieces that make up our life story. The unknown journey of each soul…a blank canvas of untold possibilities that is filled long before we intended. How is this possible?
As believers in Christ, this earthly life is just a prolog of the book. It is the qualifying race for the Olympics. It’s the preparation not the party. It’s the commercial before the show. It’s the dancing popcorn and the singing M&Ms before the blockbuster holiday movie. It’s the warm up band before the famous band. It’s the sideshow before the greatest show on earth. Heaven is the main event! We get so caught up in living our lives now that we lose sight of the fact that this life is just the temporary before the permanent — the dash between our physical birth and our physical death, the split second before our eternity. My Dad said it like this, “Life as we know it in this dimension is just a parenthesis between nonexistence and eternity- a beginning that has no ending.”
In the serenity prayer at Celebrate Recovery, I love the part at the end where it says “Lord help me to be reasonably happy in this life so I can be supremely happy in the life to come.” Stop expecting supreme happiness in this life- you are setting yourself up for sadness and disappointment. I’m just looking for reasonable happiness here.
I’ve grown up and stopped dreaming of flying to Neverland like Peter Pan. I think I might get to fly in Heaven for real! I get to be with my mom again. This world is a fallen, thorny, broken sad place that will only get worse, not better, but we keep trying to fix it up so we can be happy here. It is harder to trust the unseen. We are aliens, strangers in this land, we are just passing through. Heaven is our home. God has this all figured out and if you truly know Jesus… let me help you jump ahead – it’s a very happy ending because it is actually the beginning of forever for us. And you thought they only lived happily ever after in fairy tales! The truth is as Children of God we really do get to live happily ever after.
*an excerpt taken from The Wonder Years on December 10,2015