I emailed an old friend with some questions because I had a rough idea in my head of an article I wanted to try my hand at writing and I was looking for some insight from my past. He graciously responded quickly and thoroughly and in the middle of the email I read these words:
“The Beth I knew…”
And he kindly went on to share a concern. He said it respectfully and he said it because he cares about me, but those words caused me to catch my breath. Interestingly, they didn’t sting because of the context but because something very sad occurred to me.
Maybe he didn’t really know me, as close as we were.
Maybe my life was a lie.
Maybe I didn’t even know myself.
I’ve been thinking back to that time in my life and how fundamentally different I feel that I am now from who I was then. I mean, the big things – they’re the same. I still believe in God and that the Bible is Truth and that Jesus died for me and he loves me. I have the same kids and I love them fiercely. Most of my friends are the same and we love each other deeper and better than ever.
And yet, I don’t resemble the Pharisee that someone recently told me they thought I was back then. And I lean much more towards grace than judgment if there’s a continuum. And if you’re hurting and you need a hug or to talk, I’m much more likely these days to not really care about the details of how you got into the mess you’re in than I used to.
It hurts my heart to think that the person I was back then maybe wasn’t the real me. In fact, I’m not sure the old me would like – or at least wouldn’t understand – the new me. The old me would’ve judged the new me.
How many people did I mislead – myself included – in that life I had constructed while trying to keep my thumb in the dam?
And yet, there is some consolation. Because I think the me that I’m becoming is more like Jesus, even if just a little bit. At least I sure hope I am…tougher and stronger in some important ways, and yet more tender and gentle in the ways that really matter. And that’s all that I should care about now.
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