So I’m no stranger to Memory Lane. Which is why it was such a shock, just a few days ago, to find myself awash in tears of regret and longing.
Here’s what happened.
My husband and I were looking for a 1930s-era cookbook containing a particularly tasty recipe for macaroni and cheese. We didn’t find it, but he did find the cookbook published by my parents’ church in the 1970s.
“Maybe the recipe’s in here,” he said.
I knew it wasn’t, but started paging through the book anyway. And was immediately blown away by all these names from my childhood—the names of my mother’s closest friends.
Cec Evans. Jo Lenfesty. Eva Peterson. Phyllis Zahn.
On and on it went—names that reminded me of what I’d left behind when I moved to the big city, and what we as a nation have lost as we left behind the time-tested hopes, dreams and values of the 1950s.
I started reading through the recipes, remembering how most of these women—perhaps all of them—viewed housekeeping as both their vocations and their avocations. How they considered their purpose in life to be making loving homes for their husbands and children. And how Jesus Christ and His church were absolutely central to their lives.
I guess I’d never really thought about this last point before. When I left Green Bay, one of my happiest realizations was that I’d never again have to set foot in a church. Talk about freedom!
But I thought about it now. My mother had friends outside of her church, but none were as important to her as the sisters in Christ with whom she worshipped and fellowshipped every Sunday and many days in between.
Lucille Hopkins. Hazel Myers. Mabel Stiles. Ginny Christensen.
I spent some time remembering each of these women.
I thought about how blessed they had been, to have lived their lives apart from the corporate rat race, to have had husbands who worked low-pressure 8-to-5 jobs, coming home for lunch at noon and almost always being there for dinner with the family.
And I thought about how blessed their children were, growing up with mothers who were never more than a phone call away should something horrible happen at school. Not that anything horrible ever happened in those days, but still, knowing that Mom could be there in five minutes if necessary was always a source of peace and security.
Lois James. Ruth Washburn. Lucille Ragland. Florence Goedjen.
I took a break from my reverie to go grocery shopping at our local megastore. Searching for hot ham and hard rolls, I found the deli department crowded with young women. They were all dolled up in the latest fashions, all waiting impatiently to place their orders, alternately checking their smart phones and glaring at the flustered older woman behind the counter.
Sadly, I saw a reflection of myself some 40 years earlier.
“Stop!” I wanted to cry. “What are you doing, girls, wasting your lives on jobs that really don’t matter, doing work that may feed your ego today but is ultimately futile? Stop, before it’s too late! Seek God while He may be found. Then find a nice man, one who’ll be a good husband and a good father, settle down and raise up a family. Don’t wait!”
Of course, I didn’t say any of these things. The security team would have been on me in a flash. Besides, these young women wouldn’t have gotten it because they didn’t live it.
In fact, I’ll wager that most had never even heard of a world centered on faith and family. That most had no idea that safe neighborhoods, small communities and low-cost family vacations had once been the rule for most Americans. That most had never heard a thing about the gospel or their need for the Savior.
Instead, they’ve been raised in a culture of pleasure and plenty. They’ve been indoctrinated by an educational system that says there’s no such thing as absolute truth, to live in a world that feeds pride rather than souls and replaces the promise of heaven with the lure of fame and fortune. They’ve never even been tempted to consider metaphysical questions like where they came from, what they’re doing here, and where they’re going.
We’ve lost so much in this country over the last half century. Which raises important questions for all believers: How can we reach these young people for the Lord? Is it really too late?