“And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
There's a part of my heart that is tugged by this quote. I think it's beautiful, and I think it's real. Here is Lot and his wife running - running from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - and God asks them not to look back. But the wife does anyways. As if, in a moment of despair, she turns around because she knows that she will never again see the place she once called home. She will never again see the people that surrounded their family. She will leave everything. And she looks back one more time.
I almost want to ask her if she knew what was going to happen. If she knew that when she turned around that she would die, if she would have done it anyways.
I think there's a lot of times in our own lives when we cling to the things that we've left behind. We cling to our place, our family, our friends, our homes. And it's so easy to do, because part of us is built for relationship. And we build these relationships and make memories and stories that then attach us to a place or a thing or a building. And it breaks our heart to leave it behind.
I don't think that Lot's wife was leaving a really good thing. For anyone who knows the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, just prior to fleeing the city, the following happens:
"Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom —both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Basically, all the men in the city wanted to gang rape the men (who were really angels) visiting Lot's family. Not exactly the most pleasant of cities to live, not in my opinion at least. It seems a bit similar to that of an abusive relationship - where the woman keeps taking the man back because she really does want him to change, she really hopes that he will, that despite his faults, she wants to redeem him. Yet he never does, and the abuse continues.
Yet, we would never blame the woman. I think we'd like to call it misguided grace, broken hope, or forgiveness that's been extended one too many times. At some point though, there is a need to not turn back. To leave it behind.
Looking back one last time at the object you used to love, that you wished to redeem, is indeed something that is so human. But when the time comes to let go, we must let go and trust that something much better is in store.