I like Randy Travis. I know he fell hard and landed naked on the side of a north Texas road, broke and broken by a life he hadn’t found a way to keep up with. I like his song, “1982,” because it resonates with my soul. Now, it is about a love lost, but I feel it more as time lost, opportunity lost, what might have been never actually being…
I like this line from the song:
“They say hindsight’s 20/20, but I’m nearly going blind…”
I have not literally been found in the condition Randy was, but I wasn’t that far away. It was around the turn of the century and I was a mere three years into the wasteland of aimless wandering after my world had come undone at the proverbial seams. I was left with a family to feed and no feeder nearby, a career to pursue and no idea what it might be or what were my prospects. I had never been but one thing in my adult life and I wasn’t that anymore.
So, I did the one thing I have always done when I am happy, sad, thankful, angry, confused, certain, hungry, full, or whatever…
I wrote. I wrote a blog. I wrote a book.
I wrote a poem.
And it went like this:
All he ever wanted was to live in sanity,
To wake up in a world that made sense.
If he could trust the spinning of the planets he
Would face his every trial with confidence.
But all that was wrong
Was all that was right,
And what had been day
Now seemed like the night
He wanted to run
He needed to fight
So, he beat on himself
With all of his might.
So, this is his story,
Sad, but it’s true…
Of a man whose confusion
Replaced what he knew.
What once was insane
Was insanely true.
I ran across this poem today. I had not seen it in 15 years or thereabouts. I read it and re-read it. I felt again what I had felt on that now long-ago day. I felt the pain, the confusion, the fear, the guilt, the anger, the doubt.
Oh God, I felt the doubt.
How I doubted…just about everything.
Yesterday, Donya and I celebrated another anniversary. Thirty-six and counting. They are piling up. My girls are grown and each happily married or soon to be. I have an 11 year old grandson, the apple of my eye as cool as the other side of the pillow. For the first time since I was a pastor in Paris, I have a job that I really like, where I feel appreciated and valued, where I feel I can and do make a difference.
It was a long and winding road back from the edge of insanity.
I read that poem and I realize the problem then was that I simply didn’t have perspective. How often had I preached this very thing? “Life,” I would thunder confidently from the pulpit, “is a matter of perspective.”
I got caught under the pointed heel of Circumstance –where I had so often warned people never to be found –and it nearly crushed me.
If only I had more…
I would have seen the impending dangers that destroyed our ministry and left me all but ruined…
I would have better seen that my self-reliant heart was the heart of my problem.
Oh, sweet 20/20 hindsight. From here I see where I was then and why. I see there was a way through, if not out.
But all of that is just sight.
Foresight is knowledge. Insight is wisdom. Hindsight is experience. But it is ALL JUST SIGHT.
And I remember something else I used to preach. Maybe you could remember it with me…
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
I do not need to know the end from the beginning, nor do I wish to, for it would surely drive me mad. I do not need to know what the future holds, because I know who holds the future.
My Mom used to sing this song in church. I loved it then and need it now…