“Well, you’ve certainly been a great help to a helpless man! You came to the rescue just in the nick of time! What wonderful advice you’ve given to a mixed-up man! What amazing insights you’ve provided! Where in the world did you learn all this? How did you become so inspired?” ~Job 26:1-3 After […]
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
I was unpacking the last of the boxes that were in storage in Florida when I came across one that was filled with pictures taken ten years ago. The pictures actually made me laugh as I looked at myself posed in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy. I looked so earnest; I was trying so hard to appear fashionable because I’d recently lost fifty pounds and thought the new skinny me in my new wardrobe would be my key to happiness. It was, in some respects; I had a great time. Yet it was still the same old me inside, with all of the same old insecurities.
As I looked at those pictures, I wondered: Do we ever change over the years?
I guess the reason this is on my mind is that I recently had one of those “milestone” birthdays.
When I was younger, I always looked to the future and thought of the things I would accomplish and how different I would be at some future date. Like when I “grew up”.
As I looked at those pictures of me, then considered the row of journals that sit on my bookshelf spanning the course of twenty five years of my life, and as I unpacked that beautiful white lingerie that I bought fifteen years ago to wear on the wedding night that never happened, I realized that really, despite all the milestones that come with age, we don’t actually change the core of who we are.
When I lived in New York and worked on Wall Street, I imagined the pinnacle of my life would be when I turned 45, and I pictured myself riding to the office each morning in the back of a limousine. Today, that would be my idea of hell. In fact, it was just that mental picture that inspired me to leave New York, nearly twenty years ago.
I never became that woman I thought I wanted to be. Instead, I did something completely different. Though I have finally achieved many of the things I hoped for, while other goals remain elusive, what I find the most disconcerting is that inside, I am still the uncertain young girl I thought I’d eventually outgrow.
I always thought that with time and accomplishing my goals, all those fears and insecurities would somehow melt away and with age I would become more confident. Surprisingly, I haven’t evolved into something different than I was back then. I’m still Suzanne, with all my overblown self-doubt, my fear that no one likes me, that I’ll always fall short no matter how hard I try, and that I am not talented enough to be the popular girl. And I wonder what the point of the journey is if we can never escape that person we wanted to change, no matter how much we accomplish or how far we travel from where we first began?
And then . . .
Just when I think I’ve found a great truth, and I’ve decided that the best course is to simply aim a little lower, I instead discover something that turns my conclusion on its head.
Recently my mother has begun to cook, which is something for which she never exhibited the patience or interest for the first eighty-three years of her life. Then this past weekend she picked up my old battered copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and decided she was going to try a few recipes. She, who has been willingly displaced from her home (by choosing to join me in Colorado like Naomi from the Biblical book of Ruth) and who chugs along on a heart that operates at forty percent of its original capacity, has created a new life for herself here and found a grace and contentment that she never had before. What she seems to know instinctively (she’s always been a woman of action rather than the self-absorbed navel gazing that I excel in) is how to make the most of where you are geographically and spiritually. And as a result, her life is much richer.
My mother’s example reminds me that when we are willing to grow in our circumstances and allow God to lead us in our daily lives, we can accomplish our dreams, even as they change to reflect our spiritual maturity.
With new perspective, I look at the pictures of who I was then and compare them with who I am now, and I realize that as slowly and surely as the flow of water over rocks, God has smoothed my rough edges. He has brought me into a closer walk with Him. My journey is not complete, but I can see progress. Although it has been at times a painful journey, with many detours and delays, I am finally realizing the dreams I first dreamt when I decided to leave New York, twenty years ago.
Do we ever grow up? I believe the answer is yes, with the grace of God we can grow up and become the women that we’ve always wanted to be and, more importantly, the women that God has created us to be through the dreams he put in our hearts.
As you look back on the last ten or twenty years, how have your dreams changed? Is there one that you are still working on? Or have you embraced new dreams? Do you feel God calling you to revisit an old dream, or is He calling you to a new dream?