Was that ME?

… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                                                                          Philippians 1:6

With the increased hours at home, I had anticipated more hours writing, but I should know by now that I can anticipate all I want, but the Lord usually has other plans. Or at the very least, He tweaks mine. And I’ve earned that that’s a good thing!

With all the adjustments people have been making regarding “social distancing,” my husband Marty’s lifestyle has changed very little. My beloved architect is immersed in his latest D.Y.I. project – replacing our old eye-sore book shelves with his own handiwork, a beautiful pair of book cases, complete with sliding glass doors.

These shelves are, in fact, far too nice now to hold mere books. Most of our books aren’t all that attractive, – worn out paperbacks, beat up hardbacks, and chewed-up children’s books collected over the past three generations. Hence, the project I no longer had any excuse to put off was to haul several large boxes of books, photos, and “miscellaneous” down to the basement, sort through them, and arrange all the ones we wanted in some kind of orderly fashion on the cubicle shelves. The items we didn’t want were set aside to give to our children and grandchildren or donate to the library or Good Will.

I expected this to be a relatively quick job; I’d just have to decide which ones to keep and which ones I’d give away, and place them on shelves or in boxes accordingly.

Simple, right?

But anything involving the printed word or old photos can get me bogged down for hours, if not days.

Phase One: Curiosity

Do I want to keep this book? Hmm …  I remember buying it, but I don’t think I ever got around to reading it …  It does look good …  I’ve heard good things about this author …  Let’s check out the table of contents … That chapter looks fascinating! I wonder what he says about that … hmmm, I don’t get what he’s talking about. Must be referring to something in an earlier chapter…

[Twenty minutes later] OKAY, ANN, DECIDE! DO I WANT THIS BOOK OR NOT? 

… Naaa …

Old college term papers were even worse. I had forgotten about them, but upon finding them I remembered how hard I had worked on them, all the research I had done, and how passionate I was about some of the subjects, how persuasively I wrote, and dang it I was good writer! Thus began

Phase Two: Nostalgia.

I was knee deep in old schoolwork and pictures, everything from yearbooks to wedding photos to catalogues Marty and I modeled for when we were both worth looking at. Baby books with adorable pictures and memorabilia of the kids, Shutterfly calendars with pictures of their kids, and on and on.

When I finally got all of them on shelves categorized as “College” and “photo albums and yearbooks,” I came across another genre … my old journals.

Uh-oh …

Abandoning all illusions that this would be a quick job, I sank into one of the kids’ TV chairs on the floor and opened one. I would just read a little, then get back to work …


I scarcely recognized the person who had written this drivel. I remembered the people mentioned, the circumstances that I had written about, but oh my – !

I was a moody woman then, to say the least. For someone with a relatively easy life, I had written with great passion about my journey into self-discovery … with the emphasis on self. What I discovered reading was that I was utterly self-centered: a self-conscious, self-loathing, self-important, self-pitying drama queen. (In my defense, I did major in drama at the university, but still … !)

I was so thoroughly disgusted with the young lady that had written this self-obsessed garbage that I didn’t see the silver lining for a while. Then it dawned on me –

I’m not that person any more!

Now my days begin with thanking God for one thing after another. Once I’ve given Him my body, mind, and heart (again) I’m seeing the bright side (“divine perspective?”) of everything. If a friend rejects my invitation to do something, I’ll call another friend. If nobody wants or is able to get together with me, instead of sinking into a pit of “what’s wrong with me?” depression, I get excited.  Jesus want me all to Himself today! And I eagerly look forward to seeing what He has in store, whom He might bring across my path, and what He’s going to teach me about the world and the people around me.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for a moment that I have “arrived.” I sometimes get discouraged with my lack of visible growth and have to remind myself that God’s grace covers my faults – that Jesus died so my sins could be forgiven, and that He’s not going to give up on me now.

I still have a LOT of growing to do. But that day I found the journals the Lord showed me that while daily growth has usually been imperceptible, over time He has brought me a long way. I’m so much happier now than I was 35 years ago.

(And no doubt the people around me are, too.)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for not giving up on me. Because of Your patient working in me, I am not what I was. But I’m not yet what I will be. I gladly yield myself to You (again) and trust You to grow me in the sunshine of your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




30 thoughts on “Was that ME?

  1. If we have matured in the Lord as we should have, then all believers should be “so much happier now than I was xxx years ago.” A great reminder that we should compare our lives to our early days of salvation and examine just how much we have changed, hopefully for the better. If not much, we need to ask God where we need to change. Excellent post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, David. I love what C.S. Lewis said (and I’m going to try to paraphrase it here) that the test of the Christian faith isn’t whether John, a Christian, is better than Sue, a non-Christian, it’s whether John, a Christian is better than John was before he was a Christian.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I am pretty much the same, going down memory lane when I go through old books or journals and especially stuff my son did or drew (scribbled more like).
    It is good to reflect on how far we have grown in the Lord.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have cleaning closets, drawers & boxes too. Some things are easy to get rid of & others….well…I still have not decided yet. Reading old journals can give us great insight into how far you have come. After a coming out of a dark period in my life I decided to destroy those journals. It helped me to close that chapter in my life once & for all.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I recently found some old journals in my storage unit. I must admit, I didn’t write them. Someone very cruel and abusive to the max left them there after I divorced her. Part of me wants to dive-in and read of her affairs. The other part of me says, “No, guard your heart.”. So, there they sit collecting 8 years of dust. Forgive me for spilling this out here. I tend to say what pops up in my mind. God’s grip to us all. – Alan

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh thank you for posting this! I was just hating on myself for how terrible I am about spewing self-centered, unedited words. God has definitely worked on me because I do at least recognize it, but I wish I could stop myself BEFORE I post stupid not-very-well-thought-out comments and statuses online! And even more, I wish I was not so self-centered. Thank the Lord for his mercy and grace for us. Thanks again and God bless!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m thinking we could all use a walk down memory lane. When my wife infrequently reminds me of something that I supposedly said or did years and years ago, I can’t for the life of me understand what the heck I was thinking at that time. You’re not along Ann, the wonder of this is that God put up with us even back then. And I have a sneaky suspicion that it isn’t over yet. Blessings and thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Filed away in a keepsake box is a collection of letters I wrote to my parents when I was eighteen, while serving as a short-term missionary in Honduras and then Ecuador. Those letters are downright embarrassing now for the same reason you site: I was terribly self-centered. A part of me wants to throw those letters away, but you’ve given me reason to hang on to them. They prove the truth of Philippians 1:6!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! About 2 years ago I found my journal written 20 years ago. I was a different person. Totally different. I can’t imagine the deeper profound change from 35 years ago as in your case (I’m near 35 by the way lol). Thanks for sharing this. Encouraging!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this. Being able to see your growth is such a beautiful thing. Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come. By the grace of God, we make it though 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We’ve all been through these phases while deciding if we should pass on something or keep it. Very relatable. What did you end up doing with the journals? Did you decide that they served a purpose and it was time to let them go? It can be painful to be reminded of who we used to be but sometimes it’s a beautiful contrast to who we are today.

    Liked by 1 person

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