I posted a random, cynical thought of mine on FaceBook the other day and, for whatever reason, people seemed to connect with it. I decided to modify it a bit and use it as a springboard for today’s post.
The trouble with maturing is that your current self has to look back at your previous self and feel somewhat embarrassed. Perhaps even more disturbing is the knowledge that someday your future self will look back and feel the same way about your current self.
I had an opportunity to look back at a few of my ‘past selves’ the other day.
As I was finalizing the organization of my new office/guestroom, I rediscovered a box that contained documents I had packed away a decade ago. I found correspondence between my husband and I when we were engaged. There were old school papers and newspaper clippings. The pattern that my wedding dress was made from was tucked under a box full of cards and keepsakes from family members. And nestled in with all these artifacts were a few thoughts and poems I had written down when I was in high school. Included was this…
I don’t know how I can feel so alone when I’m surrounded by so many people but I’ve never been more lonely. It’s a terrible thing to know that nobody knows who you really are…Nobody wants to hear about the pain in my heart nor do they care to help me heal it…I need so badly to talk to someone and just get it all out. I don’t want to be alone anymore.
I don’t share that to make anyone feel sorry for teenage me. Plenty of teenagers feel lonely. But reading it made me remember—it made me remember that there was a time when I had no idea who God was, or whether he cared for me at all.
The beauty and complexity of creation was proof enough to me that someone was watching, but I felt sure I was falling miserably short of the whatever the standard was. There was no way that I, with all my weakness, was good enough or spiritual enough to attain ‘heaven,’ or ‘nirvana,’ or even a favorable reincarnation for that matter. I found it likely that I was well on my way to being a flea on a rat somewhere in Chicago.
I felt unseen and misunderstood by those around me—and the God of my imagination offered nothing but condemnation. I had family and a fairly lively social life, but the greatest longings of the human soul (value, meaning, and hope beyond this life) were screaming to be satisfied…and I had nothin’.
Then there was a moment that changed everything.
There were many things that led up to that moment (and I’ve been a work in progress ever since) but there was a single moment when I found out that God was interested in me—and that he had already done everything necessary to secure a place in heaven for me—because he wanted me there with him.
As this sank in, I marveled at how much a single moment—a single encounter with God—had changed everything.
From the time I was old enough to do so, I had struggled with unanswered questions and nagging fears about the relationship between God, mankind, and the eternal state of the human soul. After so many years of doubt, guilt, and insecurity—suddenly I knew I was of great worth to God and that I would spend eternity in heaven with him because of Jesus. I had ‘crossed over from death to life’ (John 5:24). I walked with a lightness and hope that I had never before known.
Through up times and down times that hope has been with me for 14 years now. Sometimes it becomes too familiar.
I guess remembering who I have been isn’t all bad…It reminds me of the difference one moment made…and it makes me aware of the healing and change God’s spirit has been working in my heart ever since.
That’s worth a little embarrassment over past me…or current and future me for that matter.
Today, just as I am, I breathe thanks to God from deep within my spirit for the hope that lives in me—for this life and for the life to come.