It’s always a sad day to have to disagree with Jon Bon Jovi and agree with your mother-in-law, but here I am. When Bon Jovi asks with rock-n- roll bravado, “Who says you can’t go home?” who wants to disagree? Not me. And yet, when my daughter was preparing to make the drive home after her first semester of college, and her grandmother told her that going home wouldn’t be the same, I knew her MeMa was right. My daughter didn’t want to believe it, she confessed to me, but before she knew it, she was experiencing all the angst that comes with wondering how things will be when you get home. Will your friends treat you the same? Will your parents and your siblings be the same? Will all those familiar places calm the unsettled yearnings of your heart? She learned that you really can’t go home – at least not the same person you were before.
As she was making that long drive home, across three state lines and past an obscene number of Subway restaurants, my daughter was anticipating a joyous reunion with family and friends, still clinging to the hope that her grandma didn’t know what she was talking about. She wasn’t thinking about the fact that she has spent the last six months living with new people, working with new people, studying with new people, worshipping with new people, buying tampons and Top Ramen and Chai tea lattes from new people. Those seemingly mundane activities can’t help but change a girl. She has a whole new set of experiences that don’t include those of us back home. She’s in that terribly frightening but awesomely exciting place in her life where she’s holding onto the fragile threads of change, trusting that they’ll weave her into a life that is every bit as durable as the piece of cloth from which she is being unraveled. From one tapestry to another, this is the way the Weaver of our lives works. He does not allow us to hang perpetually on museum walls, but rather proves Himself to be the artisan of living, breathing fabric that surpasses the finest breathable cotton cultivated on this planet.
Of course, my daughter did experience the reassurance of the love of family and friends this trip, and I am confident that someday she will be able to come home without angst and reservation. Bon Jovi’s words will ring true, and my mother-in-law will be…well, a little less right. There will be more strands of my daughter woven into a lovely new tapestry than will remain in the old, and she will be beginning to feel secure with the new thing of beauty that she will be. Even if the Master Weaver does allow times in her life when the dust mites of reality nibble on her front side and the cold walls of perseverance chill her backside, she will know that “It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright.”