It’s just an exit ramp to most people. There’s few things there that are noticed outside of it’s city limits. Fox News’ Shepherd Smith might well be the most recognizable face in it’s storied history, so far. For many years the food choices ranged from SONIC drive-in to… well come to think of it, initially there was only the SONIC drive-in. A place where you were easily recognized by the shape of your head lights as you cruised the route around the square to the south end gas station. This place I speak of is Holly Springs MS, my hometown.
I grew up there in the 1980’s and early 1990’s before cell phones or the internet. We, at least at my house, didn’t have cable television, a microwave nor an ice maker. Who remembers ice trays? Some reading this might remember not even having electricity… well this is the new reality of “the good old days.” I promise not to try and compare mine to yours. There were many a times I found myself on the porch holding the front door open with my foot while turning the TV antenna with one hand and balancing myself on the banister with my other. Even now I can hear my PAPA saying.. “whoaaaa stop right there, I can see Jerry Lawler clearly.” And everyone in town had the ‘old’ cabinet TV, now doubling as a piece of furniture, holding up the old ‘new’ tv.
All of us have our own stories and our own home towns that hold special places in our hearts. We all complain about what each of them lack and how corrupt they are but truth be told it’s home and home is where our heart is. After high school, I moved off to Dallas Texas for college. Excited as I was for the big city and all it had to offer, after arriving there all I could think about was the ache in my heart for a town that had just recently opened it’s first McDonald’s. On that note, the day McDonald’s opened in our town, it shut down the highway both directions including the exit ramp of HWY 78.
You can change where you end up in life but you can not change where you come from. And this location alone has a great deal to do with the make up of who you are, physically, socially and religiously. All of these present different opportunities and challenges. You’ve heard some people’s lives defined as misfortunate and others as privileged. I guess that is a matter of perspective. I could type a story that would make most grown men cry at the hardships I was born into. There were times of great difficulty, but couldn’t we all say that? Andy Andrews wrote, “you can sit down to a paper bag lunch and eat sardines and vienna sausage in the sand or you can sit down with the same paper bag lunch and eat surf and turf on the beach.” It truly is a matter of perspective.
My family didn’t have much money. Our roof leaked every time it rained until our church replaced it. My family many times depended on government assisted food programs to eat. I was educated in what some call, even those reading this blog, a substandard public school they would have never let their own children go to. I remember the looks I got and still do to this day, when I tell them where I come from. I was born to two good hearted people who struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. They could not care for me and at three months old they did the best they could by giving me up. There are other things I could type to paint a picture of hardship, but most are inappropriate and irrelevant.
See what none of that story tells is this, my family was privileged. I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My Papa worked hard at the local Wurlitzer piano plant to care for a new child he had not counted on. He bought me chocolate milk and sausage biscuits EVERYDAY. My Moma made our home beautiful with her smile, her song, her gorgeous flowers and her ability to make the world right when everything seemed so wrong. I had the latest Nike’s, game stations, bikes and everything I could want because I was born in a nation that makes a privileged life within reach of anyone who will reach. I am embarrassed by the wealth my family has amassed. I was born into a predominately Christian society and raised on the truth of God’s Word and many would say, well if you were born in India maybe you would think differently about the deity you call God. Maybe. But I wasn’t, like I said, I was born privileged. I didn’t have to search through religiosity to discover that there is only one God and I don’t have to measure up or work up a ladder… He, Jesus brought himself low to reach me. See my God reached for me not the other way around. Again I was born with a silver spoon, I have no excuses.
I have so much more to write on my blessed life and I will certainly do so later. Today I want you to focus on the things around you. Sure you can paint a sad picture of a life lived as a victim of your surroundings, that’s easy. Ordinary people paint that picture everyday looking for pity and hand outs. Maybe you are not ordinary, maybe you are extraordinary. Is it possible to paint with the very same brush, you’ve been dealt, on the familiar canvas of your circumstances a beautiful picture of a life that is flourishing? Not in spite of but due in part to, where you came from.