Keep Coming Back

Musty church basements and three scoops too much of Folgers coffee are the smells that envelop my childhood.

The rhythms of Monday night, Tuesday Night and Friday Night meetings were soothing. There was no other way to live. It was life and it was good. Being the only child I was doted on and awed over. I was the queen of these meetings and these were my people. The ones that offered me five dollar bills when I lost a tooth. The ones who let me hang out with them while they were smoking outside but made sure I stayed upwind. They helped raise me.

Once the group began it was my duty to either leave the room and preoccupy myself as to not distract. Most of the time I would pretend to read books in the corner library while I listened in to peoples stories anyways. Learning that life can be really hard and messy was not a lesson hidden from my ears or eyes and my malleable age. And yet, nothing was shocking or scary. It was real.

The musty church basement was real. Time seemed to catch up with the body and allow everyone to be fully present for that hour and 1/2. I suppose that’s what pain and vulnerability offer us – a chance to be fully present in our own lives.

Once all had shared and carried their burdens together they gathered up in a circle holding hands and would pray:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

Keep Coming Back.

Years later, I found myself attending a Christian university. So naturally, we prayed the Lord’s prayer. Up until this point in my life, I had assumed it was the Alcoholic’s Anonymous prayer. It felt strange praying in pompous stained glass rooms where the air was thick with overachievement. Every time we prayed I would find myself continuing on when everyone else had ceased whispering the final alcoholic’s addition, “keep coming back.”

Forever ingrained in my mind. And more deeply my heart.

Forever, I will always be coming back. Coming back to the reality of my own brokenness. Coming back to the gravity of God’s wholeness. Coming back to my faith with I think I’ve almost lost it. Coming back to the belief that I am worthy and enough. Coming back to my hurt that still needs more time. Coming back to the raw-ness of broken people and systems. Coming back to the beauty found only in deep darkness. Coming back to myself more gentler and kind.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up a ridiculous amount of guilt and shame induced belief.

I must not be human. I must not be human. I must not be human.

I keep coming back to my humanity more often than not these days. Breathing deep breaths.

Keep coming back.

After the meeting was over I was typically invited into the circle to pray. The heavy grip of my neighbor’s hand wrapped around mine filled me with pride. I belonged.

 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference

Keep Coming Back.

 

Friends, keep coming back. You never know what you might have left behind.

 

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