by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

I’ve always been told you can’t go back. Things can never be exactly the way they were. This is because the nature of life is always moving forward — is always changing. Nothing stays the same.

But what if I understand that things today are different from things yesterday? What if I know going back would be a very different experience? And what if I realize that I am a different person today than I was twenty years ago? Why can’t I go back and begin again?

Today I visited the church I attended as a child. I’ve attended there occasionally through the years, but it’s been over thirty years since I was a member. Yet I have to say that every time I go back and walk those familiar pathways and enter familiar rooms, I feel like I’m home.

I find myself asking, “Why couldn’t I go back to this church?” And I can’t help but feel that I could. I know my experiences today would be very different from my youth, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be equally meaningful.

A couple of days ago I was at a party and became reacquainted with an old friend. She was the mother of one of my daughter’s kindergarten classmates. We used to spend hours and hours together eating breakfast, talking, laughing and shopping. After her daughter was killed in a horrible accident a few short years later, we lost touch with each other. I’ve missed our friendship, and I’ve harbored much regret and guilt for not trying harder to stay friends. I’ve longed to tell her this and finally seized the opportunity at this party.

I can’t help but wonder what it will be like for us to rekindle our friendship. I know it will be different and perhaps not easy. But surely it would be better to renew our friendship than to just leave it to the past.

And do I really need a good reason to go back to school? I’ve often said my college days are some of my fondest memories. And I know that college would be a different experience today than it was thirty years ago.

The desire to go back doesn’t mean I expect or want things to be the same. But there is comfort in going back to what is familiar.

Again and again, I go back to the same restaurants, to the same hair and nail salon and even the same vacation spots. It feels very natural to go back to what I know best, to what has been consistent and good, to what has gained my confidence, to what has always brought me happiness. Going back to that which I trust can’t be a wrong thing.

Jesus often spoke of his ministry as seeking and saving that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) He told a parable about a man who had a hundred sheep. He questioned that if this man lost one of his sheep, wouldn’t he leave his ninety-nine sheep to go find the one that was missing? (Luke 15:4) Of course he would! Wouldn’t you?

So if the purpose to go back is to find and restore lost hope, peace, confidence, joy or to find and reestablish a dear friendship, surely this is a good and right thing to do.

If someone is telling you not to go back — that you can’t — go back, examine your motive. When the desire to return is to regain, recover and resurrect, you can’t be wrong.