You Can Never Go Home Again  

Posted by Brock Booher

Growing up in a big family we had one black-and-white TV, and limited space on the couch. If you got up to go to the bathroom you had to yell, “Seat back!” or when you returned you would find a brother or sister sitting comfortably in your coveted spot. It was our way of laying claim to our place in the family.

“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again.” (James Agee; “A Death in the Family”)

It is an adage that rings true over an over again. As soon as we cross the childhood threshold in search of our own life, we are forever changed. Our childhood home changes in our absence, and can never be reclaimed.

I recently enjoyed an overnight visit with my parents who still live on the family farm in Kentucky. Amid the discussion of kids, good books, and politics, I felt the usual nagging regret that the choices I made have led me far away from my parents. I mean that in a geographical sense not an emotional one, but sometimes one follows the other.

My parents and I have managed to stay quite close emotionally over the years and across many miles of road and sky, but I can’t help but feel a sense of loss when I let my mind wonder about what might have been - If only I lived closer… Interestingly enough, only two of my parents’ ten children still live nearby. The rest, like me, charted courses and made decisions that took us to far-away (and sometimes strange) places.

What made us all seek new horizons? For starters, we all got luggage as a graduation present. It was their way of nudging, or pushing, us out of the nest. The luggage symbolized our independence and encouraged us to seek new horizons. When I returned home after a lengthy stay in South America, my parents treated me differently. I was no longer a child, and although many unspoken expectations remained in place, a sense of freedom and independence was also prevalent. I could never go home again. It was time to make a home of my own, and I had been empowered and encouraged to do so.

I move forward in life not because I am fleeing from my past and all that it represents, but because I am grounded in it and all its good teachings. I don’t seek new horizons because old horizons have grown stale, but because they have motivated me onward in their grace and beauty. My parents taught me that life is a journey, not a destination. My journey has been good, and I don’t wish to hasten down the highway because the scenery wasn’t good behind me, but because it was so good that it made me anticipate the journey ahead with greater desire.

We are a family of strong-willed individuals, who, happily and surprisingly, have managed to stay close across the miles. Maybe you can’t go home again, but you don’t have to be a stranger to your family either. Just yell, “Seat back!” on your way out the door to save your spot.

Does God Set Goals?  

Posted by Brock Booher

Well it’s that time of year again - time for New Year’s resolutions. You resolve to do or become something during the upcoming year. I like goals. They keep your life focused. They give purpose to otherwise empty days or moments. They give you a sense of accomplishment when you actually reach the goal you set. Goals are good… most of the time.

This past year I set several goals, and I even achieved some of them. I distinctly remember looking at my goals for 2009 after writing them down and realizing they looked similar to my goals for 2008, 2007, and several years in a row. I was setting similar goals every year. They were more like “to-do” lists than goals.

This year, some opportunities came along that I never anticipated or even dreamed about. I didn’t feel so bound by my written resolutions that I couldn’t pursue new opportunities. I marched off in new directions, and I am happier because of it.

As I thought about that experience, it made me wonder, “Does God set goals?” I think He does.

I think He has a purpose for all of His creations and therefore He sets “goals” to help those creations. If He sets the planets in motion and creates galaxies full of life and splendor, then He has purpose and knows what He hopes to accomplish. If a sparrow cannot fall without His knowledge, surely He has a plan for our lives both individually and collectively. If He commands us to be “perfect”, then He will provide a roadmap and a means of measuring the fulfillment of the stated objective. I think God is a goal setter.

Not only do I think God is a goal setter, but I also think He wants us to have worthy goals of our own. He wants us to be happy, and He knows that we cannot be happy by seeking only pleasure or by standing still. We must take the resources we have, and with our talents, skills, and sheer effort create “galaxies” of our own.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”

I have felt the hand of the God I worship gently and lovingly nudge me as I strive to become, and to achieve, and I am happier because of it.