Change, it is sometimes scary, sometimes liberating, it really depends on you. I remember when I used to think “I learn through lectures, not through book study”, which was true in high school. It would have been a serious problem, however, if I kept believing that once I got to university. My first two months of university were enough to show me that lectures would not be enough: it did not matter what I believed about myself, I had to start taking up my books, find time, and read them up. Had I been stubborn in believing my own self-image, I would have probably failed that first semester, but I changed in time. My view of myself changed. My mind changed.
You have changed, too. We all do. It’s amazing to sit and chat with long time friends and see how much everyone changes and matures. Our regrets and the lessons we learned make us who we are today. How have you changed? Do you usually say things like “this is just how I am”, or “usually I am not like this”? Ask yourself, are you really? Or do you just like to believe that? Watch yourself like a stranger, you might get surprised. Watch others like a stranger also, and give up on holding to first impressions or past grudges: Other people change too. Believe me, they do. Not always for better, but hey.
Sometimes the challenge is in recognizing, processing and accepting that we already have changed. A little identity crisis that can make us push back the change, or stick with it. I used to think that a certain lifestyle was the right one, with a certain type of friends, dressing a certain way, listening to a certain type of music, liking a certain type of girls, believing certain things. I used to fit certain labels, and I believed they made who I am. Then life happened, and many if not all of those things started to change. Watching myself now I notice how many of my choices would surprise the old me, and I start asking “am I losing myself?”, “how am I, an [insert label] doing this?”. The truth is that I just changed, or even, I am still myself, but now I have experiences and knowledge and regrets I did not have before. All is well.
I am learning to be a stranger to myself. Rather than living in a way where I keep trying to be “true to myself” (as if I even knew what that meant), I go with fluid. I let myself be surprised by my own actions and by comments from those who watch me, and continuously work through deconstructing my self-image. It makes everything more practical, and knowing others becomes easier too. It makes it easier to be kind and to give people second chances, do what Christians call “grace“, when you let go of labels you put on people and let them surprise you.
Christians talk about “repentance”. It comes from the Greek “change of mind”, and it is the main thing about being a Christian (technically, it should be). As I see it, Jesus’ message could be boiled down to this: You you are apathetic to those in need, you hold forgiveness from those who wrong you, you use people rather than love them. You live as if you were your own god. Change your mind about those things. You think you are the center of the universe, well, think differently. I will know how you think by seeing how you act. You will too. We know a tree by its fruits. The cool thing is that there is a lot of change between a seed and a tree.
When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. – Martin Luther, 1517