Last night, I answered the question “What were you like as a junior higher?” with a story about how I used to smuggle 1000 page apologetics books out of the library and hide them whenever someone came by. This was because I felt vaguely guilty for having doubts about my faith and thought the best course of action (obviously) was to read a bunch of scholarly books that were decidedly not aimed at a thirteen-year-old audience. It was a struggle, at least by page 834, when we got into cosmology (probably the moment where I decided never to take physics).
This story was followed by a chorus of “Oh, that explains so much!” from the people I was with, which I conveniently ignored (after punching a few of the offenders).
But then I realized that, well…it did explain so much. Be a Heretic Monday now makes complete sense, as does the kind of things I say to my girls at youth group and post on my blog. I am a firm believer in Christians’ responsibility to think about their faith, question what others are teaching them, and communicate honestly with God and others. And it’s because of my fears and struggles as a junior higher.
As others shared bits of their life in middle school, it was interesting to see that pattern continue. Some didn’t mention specifically how they had changed, or what in their life now was a monument to a weakness or immaturity they had experienced six to ten years ago, but I could often see it. It was like a gallery of before and after shots, only with the grace of God doing the transformation instead of plastic surgery or a weight loss program.
I love that. I love that we don’t have to remain who we are, that seeing how we’ve changed in the past can remind us that we are constantly growing and changing even now.
(I guess I should note that you don’t have to be growing and changing all the time, but if you’re not, it probably takes a decent amount of effort to resist the process of maturing.)
Right now, I am confident that in ten years, I will look back on my recently-graduated self and laugh when I tell others what I was like. I will smile affectionately and, thankfully, not have to mention a bowl cut and brightly floral-patterned clothes. I will talk about the things that hurt me, the things I hadn’t figured out how to manage, the fears that kept me up at night. And, by the grace of God, I will talk about how those things changed me into someone more sensitive to others, someone who could testify to God’s faithfulness, someone more like Christ.
We don’t often see our lives in grand, sweeping timelines. We look around at the moments we are stuck in right now, with the burdens we’re carrying and the people and places that surround us. For the most part, I think that’s a good thing. But sometimes those moments are hard and filled with difficult things, and it seems like there are questions that will never be answered, God will always feel a little distant, and time will not heal all wounds.
When I have moments like that, I will remember what God has done over the last ten years and look forward to another decade of grace. Because God loved the thirteen-year-old trying to figure out what on earth an ontological argument for a Creator was supposed to mean, just like God loves the twenty-two-year-old about to start a new stage of life and making up this “being an adult” thing as she goes.
And God also loves the thirty-year-old Amy who is…well, doing something of some kind. I don’t know what, exactly. But I know she’s tried a few things and loved a lot and learned more about grace, and that’s enough for me.