Would you change your story?

Today  I watched the film ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’, and came away thinking about the passing of time, and the changes I would be tempted to make in my own story if I could time travel and do so.

I thought of a photo I came across a few days ago; a picture of myself, taken on 2nd July 2014.

I remembered taking the photo; I was dressed up for an important meeting, and I thought I looked good. What I didn’t see at the time was that my face was thin, I looked strained and my eyes didn’t have much light in them.

It contrasted with a photo taken two years later, on the 2nd July 2016. In that photo I’m laughing as I try to balance on a fallen tree stump and take a photo of my family. I’ve gained a bit of weight. I look relaxed and happy. There is joy shining out of the picture.
*******

So who was I in the first photo, and am I a better version of me now that I seem happy and relaxed again ? And would I change the past so that I never was the sad, tense woman in the photograph?

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2nd July 2014  life was dark. Very dark. I was working through the tearing down and building up again of a long marriage. I was mothering 3 children, whilst trying to work out how their Dad and I could be together after all the hurt that we’d caused each other . I was strained and unhappy.
2nd July 2016, I have all that I need. After inordinate amounts of hard work and tears, honesty and grace, our marriage is good. We keep working at it, and it keeps getting better. We no longer take each other for granted. I know that I am loved. He knows that he is loved. It’s amazing what a difference that makes. I am much more content.
 *******

I realised as I thought about it that I couldn’t be who I am today, if I hadn’t been that other woman. That same woman.The woman who felt the pain of a completely fractured relationship, and who had to make a decision about whether her marriage was worth blood, sweat and tears.

I am all of my past. I am my present too, and I will be all that I am in the future.

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I think it’s easy to believe that God was absent in the rough bits or the ugly bits or the painful bits. That He didn’t stay when things got messy. But He was there.
He was there in every single thing I did and didn’t do. He didn’t walk away when I did things that were hurting other people, or things that damaged myself or my relationship with Him.  He didn’t walk away when my grief at the loss of an extra-marital relationship, overwhelmed me. He didn’t walk away when I was falling apart.
So I don’t need to lose those scenes from the story. I don’t need to be ashamed of the sad woman with the pain in her eyes. I don’t need to wish that I could go back and change everything. Those days were no less a part of my life than the happy family photos.
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I am all of my past. I am my present too, and I will be all that I am in the future.

God was in my past. He is in my present too, and will be with me in all that I am in the future.

 
When we were in the darkest night
And wondered if our eyes would ever see the light
You were there Lord
When we were in the stormy gale
And wondered if we’d ever live in peace again
You were there Lord
You were there in the struggle
You were there in the fight
You were there all the time
 
So whatever lies ahead
Whatever roads our grateful hearts
Will come to tread You’ll be there Lord
And we will fix our eyes on You
And know that there is grace enough
To see us through You’ll be there Lord
You’ll be there in the struggle
You’ll be there in the fight
You’ll be there all the time
 
We thank You for grace in our yesterdays
We thank You for peace in our hearts today
We thank You our joy
As tomorrow comes we will trust You God
 
You’re always closer than we know
Always more involved and in control
We will trust our lives to You
The One who was and is and is to come
Matt Redman
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