When I see pictures of myself at seven years old, still and quiet with a wide and peaceful grin, seeking eyes, a demeanor of trust, no furrowed brow that focuses on memories not yet filed for later rummaging and repeated run-through, I come closer to terms with the impact the world has on all of us. At seven . . . an innocent face devoid of uncertainty, wonders not why or why not, no ifs and maybes. An oval of hope. Anxious ears. There are no lines of regret, no signs of burden, no flinching from the truth of who I am, no worry about who I might become, just a comfort with it all.
Just a good little boy, not yet abused or used . . . and not so confused.
We change, or we are changed.
When I look back through the decades, I believe it is the gentleness of lies that does more harm to us than does the brutality of truth . . . the love you forevers and the leave you nevers and the no matter what you dos and no matter what you choose . . . that crumble in the face of reality, leaving creases of pain and regret and loss and loneliness and wants unfulfilled and dreams that fight for light before slowly being killed. Perhaps we are wounded more by the promises of love that fade and fall away in distress or disappointment than the starkness of judgement which turns its back, yet waits and watches. . . for change.
Both are blind, unkind in their inability to see the subtlety of change. In love and judgement both, people move on.
But the question of change, and why we change, remains. Remaining also are the questions others have: Can you? Will you? Have you? Are you sure? How can I know? Will it last? And the demands: prove it.
Is it too late? No. You've been changing all your life and God in heaven has observed each moment, each unfolding, each unsightly shift, every coming back, each advance, countless retreats, the timid and the raging days, the moments of cowing, the rages of rebellion. He heard the cries for grace, the pleas for forgiveness, the shouts of doubt, the praise of thanks and endured the silence of bewilderment with you. Do you think He ever stopped listening? Does He ever stop longing? Do our souls ever stop longing for Him?
We really need to stop wondering if change is possible and if it is measurable and if it is provable. We need to stop worrying about whether change is debatable. We need not stumble on whether change is desirable. We need to listen . . . and if God, in His Word and wisdom, tells us we need to change, then . . . we need to change. For Him.
And His word is clear about sin. We're to turn from it.
Then we open our eyes . . . we stand to our feet . . . and we turn . . . and there it is, staring right back at us as it always has: life. The world, which takes good little boys and sweet little girls and shakes them hard and pulls and pushes and tempts and prods and surrounds us with fear and uncertainty until we find our feet anchored in a sea of doubt and our hands tied with ropes of regret and our hearts strangled by both the memories and the fears of rejection, and we become like statues in a forgotten garden. We don't . . . change. We are paralyzed in counterfeit peace, the storms raging deep inside. Please . . . peace.
Change is so hard in the shadow of an earlier choice: the world. We've chosen the glittering hope of the dangling peace over the real one.
Breathe deep . . .
Slow the mind . . .
Still the tongue . . .
Seek the eyes . . .
Extend the hand . . .
Feel the peace . . .
Take the love . . .
(For more encouragement, please consider "Who Told You You Were Naked?" and Surviving Sexual Brokenness, both available at a discount from Amazon.com.)