In their 2005 hit Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles ask the question, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” I’m not sure who first said it, but I think it could have been Thomas Wolfe in his novel You Can’t Go Home Again written in 1934 and published posthumously in 1940. But even if Wolfe was the first one to say it, he wasn’t the only one. In a Google search I found at least seven songs with the title You Can’t Go Home Again.
I’m no song writer or novelist, but I agree with Wolfe and those who wrote the songs: you can’t go home again. Earlier this summer Jan and I took a trip to Cincinnati to visit her stepmother who was critically ill. We both were born in the Cincinnati area and lived there until we moved in 1975. We had a great visit—as we always do when we return; but since we left in 1975 it has never been the same on any visit. I actually got lost driving from the west side of town where Jan grew up to the north side of town where I grew up.
Last week Jan and I traveled back to Southern California where we lived for 32 years before we moved this past December. We visited our son, I played golf three times with old friends, we ate a number of meals with some 20 different people, and went to worship at the church we planted and I served as Senior Pastor for 30 years. Like our earlier visit to Cincinnati, we had a great visit and thoroughly enjoyed returning. Most of our meals were paid for, we were welcomed and affirmed at our former church, and even though the heat was unbearable, losing in golf didn’t take away the fun I had. But it wasn’t the same.
In 2005 our family returned to the Philadelphia area when my son play in the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship. I had served a church there from 1975 to 1984. Both our children were born during that time and we bought our first house. We loved the people and it was great to see so many of them after almost 20 years. But it wasn’t the same.
Again, I agree with those who say you can’t go home again. But in their song Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles also ask, “Who says you can’t go back?” I don’t think they are differentiating between “going home” and “going back”, but to me there is a difference. As a matter of fact, I’m sure you can go back; and I know going back can be good, healthy, and wonderful. It certainly has been for us. But “going back” is not the same as “going home”.
Each of three places Jan and I have called home during our lives hold a special place in our hearts and minds. We received much and were greatly impacted by the wonderful people. We also thank the Lord we were able to impact people and leave something as well in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Moreno Valley. We will certainly go back to California and Cincinnati and possibly Philadelphia—places that once were our home, but no longer are.
We have lived in Texas just over seven months and in our own house some four months, but as we were driving from California Sunday and Monday we were looking forward to getting back to Amarillo. There are a variety of reasons why this is now our home, but the primary one is because we moved here and made the decision it would be our home. And the longer we are here, the more it becomes home.
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photo credit: danisabella <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/35213476@N08/4139741974″>Rainbow over Clovis, CA</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>