Sunday, September 29, 2013

Not How I Want to Be

When I was in high school, I was becoming friends with another boy in one of my classes. We had been in the same grade all throughout high school, but we had just never really been around each other until the latter half of our senior year. We sat next to each other, talked during free time in class, worked together on group assignments, and even had lunch together. I really liked him.

About a week after graduation, I was in a local store and saw him coming near me. He smiled and waved at me. I looked away and turned down the nearest aisle I could. I still managed to see his smile fade away though, and a look of total confusion and disappointment come over him. I just kept on walking away, trying to get as far from him as I could.

I’ve never seen nor spoken to him since then.

I feel an incredible amount of guilt and shame for what I did. I didn’t mean to be unkind, or to turn away from him as I did; I was just so nervous and shy about being around people at that time in my life. But I know I hurt him, and I wish so much I could take that back.

A few years ago, I had some time off during the summer and I decided to read through the Harry Potter series. I was so entrenched; I literally spent hours every day reading those books. Much of that time was spent reading outside on the porch. That’s something I’ve always loved to do—reading outdoors.

There were a few different times when my grandma would cross the road to work in the garden her and my parents had planted beside the house. I noticed her, but I really don’t think she ever noticed me. And I didn’t call out to her or say anything to her, mostly because I just wanted to keep on reading and didn’t want to be interrupted or bothered by her.

Now that my grandma is dead, this is one of the biggest regrets of my life. I wish so much I could go back and talk to her during those times, and every other chance I could have but didn’t. I miss her so much now that every little event like that stings a thousand times more in my memory than virtually any other hurt I’ve ever faced.

I am so full of regrets like that. I can look back and see how horribly I mismanaged so many things in my life. I can see how much I’ve hurt other people or made decisions that hurt me.

I’m reminded of the fifth Star Trek movie. In that movie, a very charismatic Vulcan travels around offering to take away the pain in people’s lives. He removes the guilt or shame or regret they’ve accumulated, freeing them in a sense, and giving them some degree of peace. Captain Kirk, however, refuses to allow this Vulcan to take away his pain. He tells him he needs his pain; that it’s a part of what makes him who he is.

Even though I agree that one’s past can shape who they are, and I know my past, and the pains within it, has certainly shaped my life, I do wish a great many things had been different.

If I could go back, I’d have befriended everyone I could, and tried as hard as I could to get over my shyness earlier on. I’d have spent more time with my grandma. I would have stayed in school, rather than dropping out for many years. I would never have had sex with that other boy when I was 11 years old, and definitely wouldn’t have continued being sexually active with him in the way we were for so long. I’d have tried harder to trust and forgive others, too.

And there have been other things that have caused me much pain over the years as well; something someone said, an unkind deed, a fear of the unknown, a worry that I’ve displeased God…

I know I am who I am, in part, because of all my life’s experiences—both the good and the bad. I am glad there is at least one person who never holds the bad against me though. I am glad to have a Savior who looks past that, brushes it aside, and sees me for what I wish to be, and what I could be.

My past still hurts me often though. I guess it’s just hard for me to forgive myself, or to accept the forgiveness of others, or to completely move on when so many of the consequences of my past actions still come back to haunt me. This is just one of the many consequences of sin.

I feel bad too much of the time. I know there are people who would say I’m just thinking too much about myself, or being selfish, or something along those lines. Maybe they’re right, at least to some degree. But even when I’m around others, focusing on others, trying to help others, I don’t feel good about me. I don’t like where I’m at in life. I don’t like the course I’m on, and I just feel as though I’m wasting so much time. I can’t figure out how to move forward though, and it just makes me feel so stuck. I know where I’d like to be, how I’d like to be, what I’d like to be, but all of it just seems light years away.


Chris said...

I feel the same way you do about things in my own life a bit. Missed opportunities, ending up on a certain path, being too shy to take advantage of earlier friendships...

It's not that I'm on a bad path or anything. God has been good to me, but it could have been different.

naturgesetz said...

I know I've had similar instances of literally or figuratively turning away from people. It's good that the memories bother us, because they are instances of failure to love the other person as ourselves.

I was at a service this afternoon where the pastor spoke of the Good Samaritan. I think all we can do is pray for our hearts to become more like the Good Samaritan's, and ask to be forgiven for our self-centeredness — and certainly the Lord forgives.

I wonder if that boy from high school remembers the incident in the store and thinks about it. I wonder if he might be happy to hear from you, to have you tell him just what you wrote here. Is there a way you could find out how to contact him and tell him?

Perhaps there are others you could find and apologize to as well.

Brandon said...

Chris, I like that last sentence you wrote. I would agree, in that God has most definitely been good to me, and I could certainly be on a much worse path. I know the path I'm on will eventually lead me where I'd like to go, and where I honestly do think God wants for me. But, to put it in biblical terms, I am just so tired of wandering in the desert, and I know if I had done a few things differently, I might be much better off now.

N, that's not a bad idea of yours. A late apology may be better than none at all, and maybe that could lead to something good.

Thanks for commenting, guys. :)

jennypo said...

Our lives are full of so much waste, aren't they? Our creator's stamp is in us, and we long for perfection, but we don't see it anywhere, and that gives us pain. I'm tired of my broken, bent self, too, and my whole sketchy history.
But there is more to God than just perfection. He is a God of mercy and grace and restoration. He restores the imperfect. He fixes broken things, and turns bad into good. There is no waste with God.

And I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, and the consuming locust, and the cutting locust, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25)
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he sends forth justice unto victory. (Matthew 12:20)

Brandon said...

Thanks, Jenny. I needed those reminders. :)