I am not who I once was. Neither are you.
And guess what?
You won’t be who are now in five years either.
We’re all growing and changing and learning and adding and subtracting from our lives every day. We pick up things we think are a better fit, and we discard things that used to fit but have grown snug and maybe a little itchy.
Life isn’t static.
Just like your favorite pair of jeans will inevitably become unwearable, some of your thoughts, ideas, and beliefs might become unlivable. And while that used to scare me, I now find it refreshing.
This is the point at which I apologize to my former youth pastor for looking past my self-righteousness masked as righteous indignation. There’s a special place for youth pastors who let teens work out their idealistic and misguided notions in real time. I thank you, Greg Linkous, for your unending patience. You put up with a lot of nonsense!
I’ve been thinking about writing and social media and how it’s extremely difficult for me to live out my writing life at times because I’m not who I once was. And for some, this is unsettling. They don’t like that I’ve done some rearranging.
In the early years, I lived for a hot debate about anything. Give me some room to breathe, and I could go back and forth with anyone of any age for any length of time battling out philosophy and religion and ethics. I ate it up.
But over the years, and along with the advent of social media, I lost much of my (well-meaning but misguided) spunk as opinions became weapons and misunderstandings became wounds. At the end of the day, none of it felt worthy of time and energy anymore. I began to recoil into myself, to enjoy anonymity and safety in the very few who knew me well enough not to discard me and our friendship if (and when) our thoughts differed.
Because isn’t that the problem? Our ideas and opinions and ideologies have become little more than reasons to divide instead of reasons to come together. We don’t engage in conversation to find middle ground and commonality. We engage in conversation simply to be heard and rarely to listen. We no longer want to grow. We just want to win.
And what good is any of that?
Here’s the problem. It’s the extremes we need to run from. There is healing in the balance — that beautiful balance of speaking and listening instead of always speaking or always listening. Behind every opinion is a human being who carries pain and passion just like you.
As I see it now, I have two choices:
- Retreat because I don’t want to deal with other people.
- Choose to try and live out the hard life of balance.
If I’m being honest, I retreat more than not these days because I don’t want to divide. I don’t want to alienate. I don’t want to defend what doesn’t need defending or berate when I should embrace. I don’t want to do any of the behaviors that build walls instead of tearing them down.
So, I’m trying. I am. I’m trying to push fear aside and speak when necessary and hold my tongue when it’s not. But I can guarantee you one thing; I will get it wrong.
When I do, will you pause before pouncing? Will you stop and remember that you once thought things you no longer think? Will you remember that we are all works in progress? Will you remember that we must act out of love more and condemnation less? Will you walk with me through this difficult world in which divisions are beginning to define us more than anything else?
I want to do the hard work, but you know what? It’s hard. It’s really hard. And I sometimes don’t want to do it.
But we must.
This is what I long for:
“There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.” –Brennan Manning
I promise to have grace for you, and I hope you can find some grace for me, too.