I have different relationships with people all over the world. Some are family, others are friends, others are just ministry contacts and some are just acquaintances. Some I talk to every single day, others weekly, other monthly and still others yearly. Within these relationships I notice how I have changed so much. I notice my change more than others. I can’t believe how different I am after looking back over time.
It is within these gaps of seeing people that I notice how much I’ve changed growing up. For instance, I see my cousins in Connecticut about every two years. Each year I never fail to hear how much I’ve grown up. Last year I was told that she used to be afraid to tell me things because she thought I would be all righteous about it, but she doesn’t feel that way at all anymore. This was a startling realization for me because I never wanted and am ashamed now to know that I was once intolerant, or at least viewed as that.
Sometimes when I think back on experiences in the church, I cringe at the way I acted or the things I used to think. I can’t believe I acted a certain way to someone. I can’t believe how charismatically inclined I was. I can’t believe how ignorant I was to so many things around me. I can’t believe how strong my bubble really was. I can’t believe I used to encourage people to do things and discourage them from other things.
Looking back over my journal entries in the past three or four years throws me for another disappointing ride. I can’t believe the way I handled situations. I can’t believe I cared about something that now seems too little to me. I can’t believe that I treated those people the way I did. I’ve changed so much.
I always catch myself saying that ‘I wish I could go back and live life knowing what I know now.’ I would change so many things. I would never have attacked my English teacher the way I did because of her belief in homosexual marriages. I would never have looked down on those who said a bad word or had a sip of alcohol. I probably wouldn’t have been so cocky about my beliefs in thinking that I was beyond everyone else in my thinking. I probably would have shown a little more respect to people that approached me. I probably would have changed a lot of things.
Yet such is life. I realize this more and more. Now instead I look forward and I think to myself what I will be regretting or wanting to change in a year about my life right now. For some reason I am blind to so many things that I know will eventually surface with time.
Why though do I focus so much on the negative? Should I not be rejoicing because of how God has changed me and molded me to reflect a better image of his son? For this I am thankful. I am thrilled that I look nothing like I did in gr.8, even though at the time I felt so content in where I was. I am thrilled that I look nothing like I did in gr.12, even though at the time I thought there was nothing else to learn. I am thrilled that I look nothing like I look when I was working at my church, even though I thought I must be doing things that no one else my age is doing and was so prideful in my thoughts. I am thrilled that I look nothing like I do last year, that I am changing constantly and continually longing to reflect Christ more and more each day.
Growing up can be painful if I focus on everything that I wish I would have changed. Instead I need to take all my mistakes and failures, lay them at the cross and move on knowing that there is going to be plenty more. I need to acknowledge them every time and continue to be shaped not letting my arrogance and pride get in the way of Christ’s good work.