How Quickly It All Comes Back

images I’m sitting in the airport as I write this. Camille and I are returning home to Texas after three days in Alabama for a family wedding. This is where I grew up, but I haven’t lived here since I graduated from college. I do have additional “deep south” years invested in Atlanta, Georgia and South Carolina. However, with two stints in Texas – the last one has been for 20 years now – I’ve lost that Southern drawl that came with life in Alabama and across those southern states. But after a very brief time, it all comes back. I find myself giving three syllables to one-syllable words and unintentionally blending in with those Alabama accents. If you’ve never lived there, don’t be fooled  b y the poor attempts of TV and movie producers to make  actors sound like southerners. They think that “y’all” should be used after about every three words and the drawl is always exaggerated. It sounds hokey, not southern. So, as I return home to Texas, I’ll probably be bringing some extra syllables with me, but it won’t take long to lose it all again. As I listened to the voices of family and friends over these days, and found myself picking it up in my speech as well, I thought about how easy it is to fall back into the past. Accents and southern drawls are one thing. They’re pretty harmless falls. But I thought about the fact that it’s also easy to get around people, places and cultural influences from the past that encourage us to slide back into a place spiritually where we don’t need to go. Because, just like that subtle return in the way we speak and blend into long forgotten patterns, we can also slide back into thoughts, conversations, and actions from our past which need to remain in the past. It’s easy to blend in and take up the old patterns of life, even when we don’t deliberately set out to do so. Those old ways can feel comfortable, and before we know it, we’ve begun to live like we used to live. Paul says, in Colossians 3:3, “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Then he identifies some of the old attitudes and ways that are to be put to death and left behind. And in verses 9-10, he reminds us that, as a believer, “you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” With roots in the deep south, I think a southern drawl is a beautiful thing, and I don’t mind its return. But I need to remember that my past holds some things that can easily and quickly return, but bring death, not life. And to that, I don’t want to go back.

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