360 Degrees—I Made a Full Circle
By Tommy Paluchowski
It’s the same room in the same apartment, 34 years later.
It’s the same view from the same window, just the trees outside are incredibly high.
It’s the same housing estate in the same city with the same streets, only now there are many more cars.
It’s the same country with the same flag and the same anthem, yet I feel like a stranger here.
Even though I grew up in this block of flats, because I was gone for so long, today I hardly recognize a face in this place.
It all began here. From this very apartment I went on a missionary adventure that at the time I had no idea what it would involve or how long it was going to last. And now I’m back where I started.
I made a full circle in my life—360 degrees. It took me 34 years.
I’m familiar with this spot because it was my home for many years. It’s here that as a desperate youth I challenged an unknown God to do something useful with me.
I still remember that moment vividly. Coming back home not long before dawn, after a night of substance abuse, tired of what I felt was a pointless existence, in my hopeless state I blurted out these distressed words: “Listen, God, if You are there and if You really are omnipresent and omniscient as some say You are, then I don’t need to explain anything about my life to You. You see how miserable it is. I want a change. I want either a meaningful and happy life or I want to die, either one, but I can’t take this senseless subsistence anymore. I need You to do something about it.”
Though I said it, at the time I was very scared of “transferring to nonexistence,” as that was how I imagined death.
Since that desperate moment I have made a full circle in life.
I’m in the same location where I lived as a desperate youth. Time passed, and this youth became a full-grown man with a diametrically different attitude.
But my age isn’t the main factor here. There are two key reasons responsible for my change.
First, it is no longer an unknown God that I talk to. Or should I say I talk with.
Second, unlike the youth, I’m no longer afraid to die. In fact, the older I get, the more I look forward to my relocation. Now I know what to expect.
I made a full circle in life.
It’s from here that I joined the missionaries to go and conquer the world. It was a greatly enthusiastic team full of distinctive characters.
How did the conquest go and what was the result of it?
It seems this world didn’t even blink while I was passing through it. But in spite of not being noticed by the world, I have warm memories of my actions. I saw tough people crying in gratitude, addicts being delivered from their addiction, ordinary people gaining faith in God and others finding their purpose in life. That has to count for something. That’s my legacy.
I made a full circle in life, and I learned a lot in the process.
But unlike the trees, some of which outgrew the four-story building, and which I can remember being planted as stick-seedlings, my life hasn’t grown straight up.
It’s been a spiral rather, resembling a corkscrew or car suspension spring. Some classes in life I have had to take more than once, just on a different level. Sometimes it was a slow climb.
I made a full circle in life, and it went so fast.
Regrets? Not really. Except some truly dumb moments, but who doesn’t have them? Let’s call them great learning opportunities.
If somebody offered me another shot at life, would I take it? I would make one more attempt, but only if I could retain the experience I have already gained, not as another tabula rasa.1
I made a full circle in life, and there are basically two things I did that I’m proud of.
I found God. I say so, but it was really God who found me when I was lost.
I tried to share Him with others for over 30 years. Regardless of my efforts, the world appears to continue on its road to destruction. But I have to trust that the successes my efforts had in individual lives were what they were meant to be. Just because they were small doesn’t mean they weren’t spectacular.
I made a full circle in life and I’m in the waiting room again.
I sit at this stage in my “spiral of life” and wait on the Lord to know what’s next.
Judging solely by the numbers, I should have enough years left to keep on spiraling up for some time to come. I even have God’s promises for it.
Looking at it from a different angle, maybe I’m about to be translated to an invisible realm. I say that in case the promises I have received are about my restoration to health being in the beyond and not in the current realm.
Whichever way life goes, this time around I have one big advantage over the confused youth from over three decades ago. Many aspects I know about God are not by faith only. Now I also have experience to back up my words. It’s a precious commodity. God’s Word is in and of itself a treasure, but the Word of God as tested and proven by me personally is of even greater worth.
Whichever way my life turns, I’m sure of this: it will be another awesome adventure I look forward to.
“For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”—2 Timothy 1:12 KJV
1 In Locke's philosophy, tabula rasa was the theory that at birth the (human) mind is a "blank slate" without rules for processing data, and that data is added and rules for processing are formed solely by one's sensory experiences (Wikipedia).