Do you ever look through your old yearbook or scroll through about ten years worth of Facebook memories and find your face starting to go numb from how hard you end up cringing?
It’s probably safe to say everyone has something about their younger selves they wish they could either change or re-do. But if this looking back turns from momentary reflection to perpetual preoccupation, it can become troublesome in our walk with God.
I have changed a lot this past decade. I suppose getting married, buying two homes, and having two children will do that. I realize I am one very blessed Millennial to be able to have had these opportunities that many in my peer group have difficulty with.
And I am not shy about expressing how all of it was possible through the glory of God. I am, however, constantly feeling quite undeserving of it all.
I’ve spent the better half of the twenty-tens in a bit of an on and off depression. I’ve been fighting a feeling of imposter syndrome, looking back on a perception of myself that I find less than favorable.
I find myself thinking, how can I be worthy of anything I have in my life now? What have I done to deserve it?
Sometimes I think about things I’ve said or done, or the way I used to act and I think I’m doomed to have my old ways permanently stamped to my current self like some kind of scarlet letter.
Because of this, I’ve allowed myself to mute my gifts God has given me by succumbing to feelings of hopelessness and despair. I look back at how I used to be and let myself think that no matter how hard I try, I can never change.
But I think we all know that’s not true.
Ironically, one of the very first bible verses I had ever memorized was 2 Corinthians 5:17 (Hence the Donut Man reference), which states that anyone who lets Christ into his or her life is a new creation. It further states that the old passes away, giving way to the new.
Ephesians 4:22-24 also tells us our old selves belong to a former life, and we can put away the actions of the past and be made new through acts that bring us closer to God.
I’ve written before about how nostalgia can blind us from what lies ahead (another shout out to my generation in that post), and I think the same can be said here. If we dwell on a version of ourselves that no longer exists, it can make it difficult to show people who we are striving to be.
Phillipians 5:13 says, “I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining to what lies ahead.”
And in Isaiah 43:18-19 it says, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing.”
None of this is to say we should forget the past entirely. We should take the lessons we have learned and use them to focus on becoming better.
1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” This verse speaks to young people taking up leadership (reminding me of a sort of Boomer vs. Millennial/Z parallel), but when I read it, it made me re-realize something.
We can’t change the way we once were, no matter how badly we may want to. But we can do something about who we are now through our words and actions, through loving others, and through becoming stronger in our faith.
That isn’t to say once we make an effort to change that’s that. We are human, so naturally we will still slip up from time to time. We’re always growing and changing.
But we can take comfort in knowing we are in the hands of Someone who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The Lord is always going to offer grace to those who follow Him, so we just need to keep trying our very best to be our very best, even when (yes, when) we stumble in our walk.
As we enter into a new decade, let’s put the old to rest and nurture what we are trying to grow in ourselves. Here’s to the next roaring twenties!