I wrote a blog post about six months back. It was titled “I’d Rather Have The Old.”
It was some sort of extended metaphor (one of my favorite things) about how my love of vintage clothing and old furnishings and cute, old houses and my grandparents’ old postcards is a metaphor for my nostalgic heart.
I never published it.
And now, I’m so very glad it has stayed in “draft” format.
Because here’s the thing: for a long time now, I’ve been dwelling on old stuff. Mentally, spiritually. My soul does little glances backward, a pining that turns to salt like Lot’s wife at Sodom and Gomorrah. When I wrote that six-months-ago post, I was still holding on to six-months-ago hurt and fears and grief. Lost relationships. Friendships that were fractured. Jobs and roles that I knew I’d never occupy again.
I’d been playing these dusty VCR tapes over and over, breathing in the familiar sounds and the familiar-but-fleeting comfort they offered me.
I wrote “I’d Rather Have The Old” because that – in my heart of hearts – is how I felt. It was a “good ‘ol days,” mentality. It was that tendency of mine that I like to call nostalgia. But it’s actually not that simple. It’s that turning-back tendency that makes me miss the beauty, the redemption, the growth, the good that’s all around me in the present.
Then, this weekend, something clicked for me. Me and a bunch of my best girls went to the mountains and we played hard and prayed hard. We laughed and cried until our sides and cheeks were a little sore and raw. We played volleyball and ping pong and dodge ball and we screamed on the zipline. And suddenly, in between cries of worship and heartfelt conversation, I realized: hey, this is new. This feeling of freedom, this being-me-fully, this feeling of being known and valued and loved without guilt, and without worrying about pleasing anybody. This is new! And hey, I like it.
One of our speakers during this weekend retreat said this, right into my soul: “Some of you have been playing old tapes over and over again in your head. Old lies. An old nickname someone called you, an old pattern, an old habit. You’re chaining yourself to that old stuff and letting it have power over you.”
Listen up, friends. Listen up, she said: “You are not who you were.”
Do you really hear that? You are not who you were. 6 months ago. 6 weeks ago. 6 hours ago.
This is the beauty of Christ’s aliveness in us. He’s redeeming you moment-by-moment, bit-by-bit, always. So you’re never going to be who you were. You are evermore the person you’re becoming. The person you were made to be.
Right there, in a valley filled with the glitter of gold aspen trees turning, shoulder-to-shoulder with the people I love, the VCR sputtered and started making some pathetic dying noises and then stopped altogether. And I thought, “It’s time.”
“Time to take that old, dusty, six-months-ago, six-years-ago VCR player to the Goodwill. Or maybe just the dumpster.”
Friends, I’m not who I was! Wahoo! That old VCR ain’t got nothin on me.
Here’s some old lies, old names, old tapes I’ve been believing about myself, and their year of origin:
Teacher’s Pet” (5th grade, 2001)
Little Miss Perfect” (3rd grade, 1999)
More of a Lamb” (11th grade, 2007)
- I had a high school friend who told me one time: “There are two kinds of friends in the world. Some, like me, are leaders – wolves. You’re more of a follower. You’re more of a lamb. You can’t help it.” And you guys, I have believed that about myself all this time. LIKE WHAT. Going on a decade later, I still have believed that I’m not capable of leading, and not worthy of being followed. That I’m just a helpless follower forever. That my voice is small and my role is secondary to the wolves of the world. Lord, have mercy.
Valedictorian” (8th grade, 2004)
Weak friend” (11th grade, 2007)
- I have had a pattern of friendship in my life that has cost me many relationships and caused a lot of pain. I have latched on to people with really strong personalities and placed my identity and worth in their approval. And then, when they pull away (because they were never meant to hold my worth in their high-school-sized hands), I have been crushed, hurt and confused. I have lost more than a handful of friends this way over the course of my school days. It’s been such an inner struggle to give grace to my friends and to myself, rather than putting all my prideful, insecure eggs in the basket of pleasing them. I have been so, so afraid that this pattern will be a curse on my friendships forever – that I’m too ‘weak’ and ‘needy’ to actually have healthy, flourishing friendships. LORD, HAVE MERCY. I am NOT going to play this tape anymore. I never liked it to begin with.
People-pleaser” (Freshman year of college, 2009)
Never says no” (Freshman year of college, 2009)
Depressed” (Senior year of college, 2013)
Failure” (2013-2014. Lord, have mercy)
People, this is madness. These words had a power over me I never even knew was still playing. Will you join me in stopping the tapes and letting God’s promise of newness in Jesus become reality to you?
And on the note of hallelujah, here’s the stuff that God’s writing, with new ink and new grace, in this little heart of mine:
- “Gloriously imperfect”
- “Strong voice”
- “Worthy of wonderful friendship”
- “Worthy of being heard”
On Monday morning, when we were back from the retreat and cursing our alarms, I got up early for my quiet time and read this, in God’s awesome timing. I dare you to read it aloud to yourself.
“You shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed ‘forsaken’ and your land shall no more be termed ‘desolate.’ But you shall be called by the Father, ‘My Delight is in Her.'” [ Isaiah 62:3-4 ]
Isn’t this totally awesome? God is talking to the nation of Israel, his Zion. He is promising that their old mistakes and wanderings would be written over in His handwriting of mercy. He is vowing to treasure those once-desolate places of the heart, those places that sting, and make them beautiful – like His treasure, His crown.
There are new names, written in God-sized handwriting. New ink and new grace, heading towards you and me straight from the heavens. Will you join me in stopping the tapes and letting God’s promises breathe life into you?
Turn off that VCR.