I’ve been back from Maryland for a week, but my mind is still spinning. Nearly three weeks of pseudo-relaxation: time with family, catching up with old friends, stepping far enough away from my business to take a deep breath and enjoy a little bit of life. So much to process, and writing helps, so here’s a start.
It took me Forever. (Totally just said the Sandlot “forever” there. Alone in my basement. Talking to myself. Which I guess is not all that different than writing a blog. Anyway. Wow.)
It took me forever to buy my ticket to Maryland. In part because of the expense…the time away…the commitment of leaving town and work and visiting my big sister who – though I love her so SO dearly – often brings out bits of violence and rage in me (love you 🙂 ). But then there was the dread.
I left Maryland nearly ten years ago. And when I left, I was more than a little bit of a mess.
After moving away, I would drive from Virginia back to good ‘ole PG County, and as I descended the Potomac River bridge, my stomach would leap into my throat and I would fight the urge to vomit, cry, or just turn around and head back South. The life I left there was filled with memories… virtually my entire adolescence: ages 12-16. The state that shaped my ideas about God, life, love, friendship, family, politics; the people; the experiences; the choices.
Maryland was like looking back. So eventually everything from there became a little compartment in my heart under lock and key. Why go back “there”? Why see the streets and the faces and the buildings? Why face the haunting memories that have finally settled into my subconscious, only surfacing in the occasional nightmare?
I have this association with places. It’s the reason I embraced my family’s move to Virginia. It’s likely why I went to UND, but considered transferring after my freshmen year failed to yield any promising internal changes. It’s why I ran to L.A. for my summers; why I quit school and stayed there; why I quit L.A. and went back to school. It’s why I ran to Chicago after graduation, and why I moved home 7 months later. It’s why I’ve been trying to leave Fargo practically since I arrived.
I’m running and running and running.
Never looking back.
But then I realize – it’s still me. I haven’t changed. And I follow myself everywhere I go.
I had similar qualms about visiting L.A. this summer. Returning to a place of my past when I was finally leaving the past behind. But then as now, God began to whisper: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”
So I went to Maryland. And faced ten years of running.
And I sat across the table from an old friend and experienced grace and forgiveness and love that I didn’t allow her to give ten years ago.
And I spent wonderful time with my sister and her beautiful family and laughed and cried and talked about the meaning of life and – most miraculously – didn’t fight even.once.
And I spent a week with friends who last saw me in the pit and we got to celebrate and rejoice over just how much God had done.
/ / / / / / / / / / / /
Have you ever read Psalm 107? You should. Someone shared it with me right before I ran from L.A. It describes four scenarios – all people in messes who end up crying out to God in their distress. At the time, she asked me – Which one are you? I empathized with all of them. Wandering in desert wastelands, sitting in darkness as a prisoner in chains, being a fool in rebellion, experiencing good things and forgetting about God. I empathized with their pain and helplessness – I too have lived in the pit. Stayed there for years. Tried to pick myself up by my bootstraps only to sink deeper.
The words that I’ve heard as I’ve moved forward without moving anywhere are from this Psalm: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”
Just now as I was revisiting it, something beautiful struck me. I empathize with the pit, absolutely. I will never forget that pit, because in just a moment I could find myself back there. But as I read the Psalm now, I don’t get stuck there. I don’t just see the chains and the loss and the distress – I see the redemption. The beauty. The healing.
From Harwood to Maryland to Virginia to North Dakota to L.A. to Chicago and back to Fargo where it seems I will stay for now.
Which one am I?
I am the redeemed of the Lord.