I remember as a child feeling as if I had no say so about my life. As a child, all that I had control over was how I performed at church and at school and which outfit I chose from my closet to wear for here and there. My choices were limited but my convictions multiplied rapidly.
I remember after high school feeling hopeful as possibilities were presented to me, yet frustrated with limitations, circumstances and decisions that were made for me. I remember after college feeling empowered by making my own decisions that took me farther and farther away from the life I had known. I remember after whittling my possessions down to within the limits of international travel feeling exhilarated at pursuing a life in another country and being surrounded by other cultures and global concepts which shape views of identity, relationships, family and religion. I remember after returning to the States feeling confused and disoriented by the unexpected and unplanned for turn of events which put me back into the position of others making decisions for me, decisions for which I had no say so it seemed. My choices were limited and my convictions solidified.
Everything has changed from then to now. My home is a place that speaks of permanence, a place to rest and to retreat. It is not new; in fact, it was built before I was born. It is not elegant, modern or upscale; it is simple, basic, marked by time and solid with character. It is not the kind of place in which I had invested in the past but it is the kind of place I had longed for. It is not a place I had to settle on or adjust to in compromise as making the best of what I had been given; it is a home that is a perfect fit for me. It is the kind of place that I assumed I would never be able to afford. There’s a new vehicle parked outside my door, replacing one that I had assumed would be with me until the end of my time. The old one served my needs well and had great sentimental value, tying me back to the time when the scope and the demands of life were more international and more global. I had no particular intentions of getting rid of that old thing. An issue of a possible undefinable and expensive repair redirected my focus to something new. It requires less energy and effort than I’ve ever known to drive. It is practical and a pleasure to drive as well. It is a vehicle that is a perfect fit for me. It is the kind of transportation that I assumed I would never be able to afford.
Everything has changed from now to then. My body shows the shifting of age and the marking of time. There is softness where once there was leanness; there is weakness where once there was strength. The strands of blondes, browns and reds are gone. Salt and pepper are here to stay. The three-way mirror reflects a person who is a stranger to me in every way.
Everything has changed from now to then. My convictions are continuously being challenged though my choices are often still few. How I chased after life then is not what brings me pleasure now. Even if I had more money, more options and more power, I would not buy a different house. The same is true for the car as well. I am still awestruck when I look over what I have and realize how blessed I am and how perfectly fit it all is to me, though the process of getting here may not have always been kind.
Gone is the flush and the drive of youth. Gone is the frustration and the angst of working to be approved and to fit in. What brings me joy is the acceptance of what has been fitted to me, divinely designed if you will. What strengthens me is choosing how and when to give, and to receive, within the convictions that have been tested and proven true. In some ways, my vision has declined and in others, it has improved. The blessings that have been given to me will continue to be blessings, as long as I meet the responsibilities required of me to keep them as blessings. If those things begin to define me or to own me, those responsibilities will become obligations and those blessings will become obstacles.
Everything has changed from then to now. Those things which stand with character, though marked by time, have been held onto. Those things which have burdened and held back, though heavy with sentimentality and emotional significance, have been traded in for something better for me.
Everything has changed from then to now. There is a stranger in the mirror looking back at me.