Do I Really Miss the "Old Me?"
Sometimes, I think I miss the “old me.” The thought just popped through my head again. This time, I got curious and challenged it though. I observed it and asked it questions. Do I really miss the old me? How do I know? Why? What exactly do I miss? Because the old me had to work so hard to be happy and not feel guilty. The old me was constantly working for the approval of others. The old me felt like I could never do enough to measure up. The old me walked on eggshells a lot and felt like she had to have an answer for everything. The old me felt responsible for everybody else’s feelings, and she felt obligated to integrate their opinions of her life and decisions into how she lived out the present and the future. The old me lived in the past and the future to decide what to do in the present.
So what am I missing exactly? What am I wishing for? I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the “old me” I am missing is the ABSOLUTE certainty that I thought I had. The old me believed I could have definite, black and white answers to all life’s questions. There was no ambiguity. Life was black and white. There was a BEST RIGHT answer for everything (Whatever God’s way was, because God’s way is perfect). And it was my job to figure it out, as I was trained to do in my sect of Christianity. It was my job to find God’s perfect will for my life and run with it, because that was the only acceptable place to be. While it was anxiety provoking, it was also assuring that there are answers. I miss the illusion of KNOWING. The illusion of knowing exactly what life was about and living out that purpose daily. But now, I realize, that’s all it was — just an illusion. The “old me” would tell you that life was about bringing glory to God. It was ALL ABOUT his glory. The list is pretty exhaustive, but some ways you knew you were bringing glory to God included: you were not sinning with your actions OR THOUGHTS, you were not even being a stumbling block or offending the opinion of ANYBODY else, you were doing what was in front of you with a good attitude, you were serving, you were putting others before yourself, you were sacrificing money, time, etc, you were filling your mind with holy, edifying music, things, etc and turning away from filling your mind with evil things by taking every thought captive, you realized that you were nothing on your own, in fact, you were worthless, but everything good you did was because of God being at work in you.
So as I thought some more, about do I really miss the “old me?” Hell no. I do not miss the old me. I do not miss the anxiety of trying to measure up (even though I was covered by the blood of Jesus). Not measuring up, even though your salvation was secure, meant less rewards in heaven, which we were told we would be ashamed of because we wanted as many rewards as possible to lay at the feet of Jesus as a thankful offering for what he did for us, and a symbol of how we gave our life back to him. Never enough. No matter how I tried to look at it, I was ever enough. I do not miss the guilt and wondering how my tally system was doing in heaven, even if I would be saved, but barely. (the bible talks about that too with a frown).
What I miss, I guess, is the list of rules to check off for did I measure up today? The community, the approval, the many leadership positions I held, the many people who looked up to me and saw me as so strong, the thrill of guiding people and encouraging them to move closer to Jesus. I felt important. I felt valuable. I felt like I had purpose. I miss THIS. I miss leading people to be the best version of them (but for Jesus) that they could be.
But I can create this again — I just need to figure out how I can help people heal and have the best life possible whether they’re inside or outside the religious world. Just because religion is not for me right now, doesn’t mean my life doesn’t have purpose. Maybe I’m more on track than I realize. Right now, the road just seems so fuzzy. I see many paths, and confusion as to which one(s) to take. I feel excitement and inspiration, but I struggle with indecisiveness because there’s no longer an authority to make the decision for me. There’s no longer a right or wrong. My world is wide open, waiting for me to create it. That’s both amazing and intimidating. Baby steps I guess. One day at a time…with what’s put in front of me…I can keep moving forward. There are so many things I want to be and do…so many that I don’t think it’s possible to be all of them.
So no, I guess I don’t miss or want the “old me.” The new me has so much more potential, healthy boundaries, and no boxes that I have to fit into. The new me is not bound to anything, but is liberated to create whatever I want my reality to be. And because of this freedom, life is good.