When I was in sixth grade, I got glasses. Please picture this: I wore glasses, had braces (with bright green rubber bands because that was my favorite color), and I was also going through a phase where I wore sweatpants every day that I could get away with it. If I had to go back and erase any part of my life, it would probably be that one. Thankfully there isn’t much photographic evidence of this phase; kudos to my mom for knowing that it would probably embarrass me later on!
There are parts of everyone’s life that they wish they could erase. I mean, I wouldn’t come out with the above story on a first date when I was trying to put my best foot forward. Yet it remains that the best way to know someone is to hear about their past. That means even the things that they wish hadn’t happened.
Sometimes, we want to hide these parts of our past from others. Or even from ourselves. But this means hiding a part of ourselves; perhaps we are even naive enough to think that our past doesn’t affect us anymore, or that it doesn’t affect those around us.
I’ve been thinking about my past lately, like what exactly has led me to the point in life that I’m at now. Some of it is so bad and horrible and embarrassing (refer to sixth grade), and I don’t want to think about it. But it has shaped me nonetheless. And where I came from shapes my thoughts, my actions, and my interactions endlessly.
Even in those moments when I was not close to God, He was there. I just didn’t notice it. It is the most embarrassing thing to think about: that God has seen all of my transgressions, that He has experienced all of my favorite memories with me, yet I never thanked Him nor acknowledged Him. I don’t really understand how, looking back, but I just seriously did not know that He was there.
Don’t I wish that I could take that back now? Absolutely! I wish that I could have known Christ my whole life. I also wish I wouldn’t have put neon green rubber bands on my braces and made bad fashion choices…
I think that if I had known Christ then, I would have known that things would get better during the worst of times, because He was present. And that I should have been thankful to Him when things were great, because He was alongside me, sharing in my every happiness.
Even though it may seem like on the surface that I should be ashamed of the time in my life when I didn’t know Christ, I now know to be thankful to Him for everything, even my shortfalls. I know that my experiences of doubt and distance from God in the past help me relate to other people who are going through the same thing. I know where I’ve been, and although I never want to go back there, I can be compassionate and patient as others wrestle with their doubts and seek for meaning and truth in their lives.
In fact, I’d say my doubt in Christ undoubtedly made me into the person I am today. And if it hadn’t been for others sharing their own struggles, people who went through periods of doubt and just plain old ignorance, I may not have gotten through any of those things and found Christ through them.
I thank God that there are people out there who understand me, who are like me. We all might have similar thoughts about wanting to erase our pasts, I’m so glad that we can’t. We can’t be ashamed of where we came from, we can only grow from where we are now. It reminds me of a Darius Rucker song, “This.” Every single thing that has happened to us, as he explains, has made us what we are today.
Without my past imperfections (or my braces, sweatpants, and glasses phase) and the grace of God, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
If it was only through a period of ignorance that I could come to know Christ, then I am immensely grateful for my ignorance.
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Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.