i have been thinking a lot about how much i’ve changed over the years. there are so many things i used to think, believe, be so sure of, that i no longer embrace. i’m thankful for where i was—in all its wackiness it did make me who i am today. and i’m thankful i’m no longer there. i know there are some that think i’ve gone off the deep end (or slipped right down the slope). but for me, it feels more solid than it sometimes seems. i am sure i will continue to shift and change and things i think now may be different in a few years, too, but it feels like this direction is the right one for this place & time. going down instead of up. letting go instead of holding on. open handed instead of close fisted. listening instead of talking. loving instead of hating. not knowing instead of being so darn sure. so while i was hanging out on the boat on a beautiful-saturday-on-the-lake-with-my-family-this-weekend i pulled out a ratty piece of paper and wrote out some “i-used-to-but-now-i’s” off the top of my head. it was kind of fun to do. here they are:
- i used to feel the need for things to be black and white. now i really appreciate the gray.
- i used to think reading the Bible brought me closer to God. now being with people makes me feel closest.
- i used to think something was wrong and ungodly about me because i wasn’t “meek and mild and submissive” as a christian woman. now i feel more free to be me.
- i used to think i had the market cornered on God. now i realize the only thing i had the market cornered on was arrogance.
- i used to think people could pull themselves up by their bootstraps & change their lives with enough prayer and hard work. now i see how truly complicated poverty, mental illness, and a host of other problems really are.
- i used to think what pastors, preachers, and other people-who-wrote-and-spoke-from-the-front was for sure true. now i chalk it up as just their opinion (and tell others to do the same with me!)
- i used to think that if i talked about God enough & my kids could regurgitate enough scripture verses i’d be a good parent. now i see our actions are far more important than words.
- i used to think words could change a person’s life. now i think presence does.
- i used to think who i was in my worst moment was who i really was. now i am trying to embrace myself as a living paradox filled with a lot of worsts and a lot of bests.
- i used to think the christian life was one of ascent & i kept feeling like a loser because i couldn’t get there. now i think it looks more like descent & it takes away the pressure.
- i used to think people on social services were lazy. now i see how arrogant, classist, and disrespectful that is to my beautiful brothers & sisters who have no other choice for all kinds of wacky reasons.
- i used to think i could easily be led astray by people who didn’t know or follow Jesus the way that i did. now i realize they are the ones who have brought me closer to Jesus in the end.
- i used to think i couldn’t really change anything in the world, that the only thing i could do was pray. now i realize that it’s my responsibility to speak out, act out, and stand up for issues of injustice on behalf of the oppressed with more than just words.
- i used to think reading the Bible more was the goal. now i think living the Bible is more the idea.
- i used to think i was supposed to be set apart from other people. now i realize there is no them and us.
- i used to think that individual spirituality & a “personal relationship with God” was enough. now i see how much our faith is integrated with living life with other people.
- i used to never even notice the lack of women and underrepresented groups in church leadership. now i can see and smell it from a mile away.
- i used to call myself a born-again evangelical christian. now i call myself a woman-who-is-trying-to-follow-the-ways-of-Jesus-and-learn-to-love-and-be-loved.
- i used to think it was my God-given responsibility to share “the truth.” now i feel pretty confident that grace does a lot more good.
- i used to think that success was moving to the top. now i am seeing that moving to the bottom is where it’s at.
- i used to think the kingdom of God was really really narrow. now i think it’s bigger than i ever imagined.
- i used to dream of what could be when it comes to “the church”. now i am seeing it happen right before my very eyes.
what are some of your “i used to…but now i’s?” i’d love to hear!