I had no plans to go back. None. But one day I found myself in my old house.
The road to return to the place I once called home was a circuitous sequence of events. It began with what I thought would be a quick trip to pick up my former neighbor’s mail. Upon arrival, I noticed the flowers were desperately in need of a drink, and while approaching the hose spigot I heard running water and saw puddles around the foundation where the main irrigation facet was spewing. After several attempts to shut it off, it became obvious that more muscle and a tool were required to budge the rusty valve. That’s when I headed next door — to the house I once lived in.
Walking up the familiar path, I couldn’t help noticing the landscaping I had meticulously planned and planted over six years ago. Overgrown shrubs smothered the perennials. Trees stretched over the house. Bushes crowded the beds. When I reached the door and rang the bell, I didn’t know what or whom to expect. Within a minute a tall young man appeared. After I explained the dilemma and requested a tool and some help, he responded immediately, “Sure, come on in.”
A moment later I stood in the hallway of the house that was once our home for more than ten years. Glancing around, the new kitchen granite countertops were the first thing I noticed. They were previously Corian, and I smiled remembering my Achilles heal in the selling process — the lack of granite in the kitchen. It felt eerily strange as I walked through that room — a place where I had prepared hundreds of meals and celebrated numerous birthdays and holidays. There were happy memories there and throughout the house, but I didn’t feel them at that moment.
In the garage, we searched through drawers that I had installed years ago, looking for a wrench. Soon the flood emergency was averted. Ironically, not by the tool we had found but through a phone call to my current landscape manager who came to the rescue and shut off the water.
What started as a quick mail run turned into an unexpected trip down memory lane. Looking back now I realize how foreign it felt to be inside a place that I had made home for so many years — where my children had grown up as evidenced by the height milestones penciled inside the linen closet door. This experience was an immediate reminder of what I know to be true — you can’t go back. The past is gone. I don’t live there anymore. I moved out and moved on.
After arriving home I took time to reflect and read, and a quote appeared in my lesson that very day that confirmed my thoughts, “There is nothing we can do to change our past. It is as hard as granite, as immovable as a mountain,” author Jerry Sittser said. “We cannot change what has happened. Still, we do have one power within our grasp — we can trust God to redeem the past.”
I can’t go back and make better choices or more God-honoring decisions — important ones that set the trajectory for my life that I am living now. But I can know with certainty that God will use every one of my missteps to create a new beginning and an abundant life today and in the days to come. That truth is as solid as granite — including countertops!