Sunday, I walked out of our Life Group with the sea of people heading to the bathroom and passed one of the dad’s I used to babysit for. It had been a good morning, but the week’s unexpected turn of events had left me feeling disoriented and tired. Mr. David was visiting with someone else, so I patted him on the arm, planning on just passing by when he stopped, looked me in the eye, and said,
“Em-ly, ah lov ya bay-beh.”
His words just kept echoing in my ears. His kindness via cajun accent draping across my weary shoulders, comforting my unsure heart.
There is a warmth to going home again that cannot be found anywhere else. When you walk in the doors and hear over and over again, “We’re so glad y’all are back,” and you know it’s not because they think you’re awesome or impressive. It’s mostly just because they love you now like they’ve loved you since you were a bow-headed eight year old, a brace-faced, awkward seventh grader, and a boy-smitten, oblivious teenager. They’ve loved you right to the marriage altar and sent you off to a big, big world – where you, for the most part, thrived. And now they welcome you home because they love you – and on top of it all, they love your kids – like they’ve always been here or something.
They are not perfect, but then neither are you. Sometimes we grow up, and we start to feel really good about how smart we are, how enlightened we’ve become – and we see all the things we do not like about the people and places of our childhood. Some people can’t understand why we would want to move back to our itty bitty Louisiana hometown when we were doing all the “big” things and living in the perfect weather and mountains or beach and such, and I understand their point. Truly. But I think that a lot of people in our generation – myself included – allow pride in progression to break ties to the very things, and more importantly the very people, who loved us into who we are. To be fair, you can do both. You can have roots and wings – and coming home has reminded me of just how important those roots are.
It’s also reminded me how important it is to make sure people who are walking into a new place feel that same sort of warmth. It won’t be exactly the same, obviously – time layers warmth like blankets in the winter. But I know what it is to have to fight your way into a place, to be the one who is trying to pile on blankets and create the warmth when you’re already the new kid standing out in the cold.
So today, wherever you are, stop what you’re doing, look someone in the eye, and tell someone who looks a little tired or lonely that you are honest to goodness glad they’re here. This is the way of Jesus, I’m sure of it.
P.S. I love you, Central Louisiana!