We all remember a moment before…
Before the illness….
Before the divorce….
Before the fight….
Before the great disappointment…
Although it is does depend on the event that precipitated your before, I think most people look fondly at their before.
As I stated in my first blog post, I feel compelled to share my story through the lenses of grief. I’ll get there, but before I do, I think it’s important to look at my before Before it all changed…
I can’t tell you why, but I always had a heart that was bent towards God. I can’t actually remember a time that I didn’t deeply love Him. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but I was a pretty radical Christian as a high school student.
I openly shared my faith with my peers. Even though I was that weird Christian, people liked me. I was even nominated for Homecoming Queen. I played varsity tennis and I was the student body president. My faith was simple. I loved God and I loved people.
Things started getting a little bit more “exciting” my junior year of high school. I felt compelled to apply for a summer job in Los Angeles working for a mission organization. But that feeling didn’t make sense. I wasn’t old enough to work there by 2 years. But do you know the feeling? That feeling where your gut is telling you to do something even though it doesn’t make sense? I call it a nudge from God. But even if God is not part of your story, I think you know what I am talking about. There is a nudge, a push, a sense that you are supposed to do something and you don’t know why.
So I did, I applied. Much to my surprise, I got accepted. When I finally got the call, they told me that they had kept putting my application aside-I wasn’t old enough. But the application kept coming back, I was supposed to be there.
It is during this summer that I had my moment, my before, that I have gone back to again and again over the last 18 years.
I remember the moment well. The whole team was in the pool. It was sunny out. We had worked hard all summer and now we were celebrating. But it wasn’t what we were doing that I remember as much as how I felt. I felt free. I felt joy. I was completely surrendered to God. In that moment I felt as if I were the version of myself that God had intended. I loved fully and was fully loved.
This was my before. This was before trauma clouded my judgement. It was before my view of God got complicated. It was before my innocence was lost. It was before my heart began to harden. It was before I subconsciously decided that I am better at running my life than God.
I have spoken about this particular moment to many people over the years. I have talked about my longing to be that person again, before. Well-meaning people have lovingly said things like “Maybe you just grew up, maybe you are different from who you were.” Or “God uses everything for the good in the end, maybe this is the way God wants you to be.”
But I knew. I knew that although I may not be able to be exactly the same as I was, there was more. You see before my trauma, I loved people so much. I loved God. And although I wasn’t perfect at it, I surrendered my life to Him. I felt hope and I wanted to share that with others.
But after, I became judgmental and cynical. I said I trusted God (and I did the best I could), but really I was in charge. After, I didn’t live in hope. I felt urgent and fearful, assuming the worst at all times.
And I knew that my after was not the version of me that God had intended. I knew in my heart that there were things in me that were waiting to be restored and redeemed.
Your before and after may not be as extreme as mine. But my challenge for you is to take a moment to think about the event. Think about the event that created a before and after in your life. Who were you then? How are you different today? What was lost that day? What are the parts of you that you know have not been lost, but are waiting to be redeemed and restore? What I have learned over the years is it important for us to remember our before to understand our after.
Take some time, think about your before. God will show you the places that He wants to redeem and restore. The great news about before is that it always follows with an after.
And what matters in life is what we do after.
Living through the after,