It’s getting colder, which means putting away the short-sleeves and light cotton capris and pulling out sweaters and heavier pants. It’s fun to ‘re-discover’ autumn colors and cozy fabrics.
It’s also a time with a bit of angst. Will the clothes still be stylish? Will I still love them? And, most important, will they still fit?The other day I put on a pair of pants I’ve had for many years. In the DR there wasn’t much opportunity for my ‘winter’ things, so it had been a good, long time since I’d last worn them.
To my dismay, they just didn’t fit right. They are still a color I like, with a simple cut that hasn’t gone out of style. They had been a favorite, and I remember many good times wearing them. But, when I put them on this time…
Coming back to Harrisonburg has been kind of like trying on those pants. There is so much about here that is so amazing. It is a blessing to be back, reconnecting with people and places I love. And yet, if I’m honest, it doesn’t fit the same anymore.
It’s only been three years, so it is understandable that people would expect me to get back into the things I used to be into, go to the places I used to go, hang out with the same people. And, some of that is happening, of course.
Even though I don’t always like to admit it, clothes sitting in a closet waiting for the seasons to change do not get bigger or smaller (usually smaller!) all by themselves. When pants that used to fit no longer do, the likely cause is me, not them. They haven’t changed, I have.
I am not the same person I was. My experiences in another culture have brought forward certain parts of my personality, and pushed others back. I see things differently.
I find myself fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental. To act like others should see things the way I do now. Even though I knew there would be adjustments, at times I feel overwhelmed at how many there are.And, the truth is, unlike the pants, things here have changed, too. There have been children, marriages, deaths. Jobs have changed, homes, churches, too. As my interests have changed and widened, so have those of others. They, too, are not exactly the people I left three years ago.
For some of them, perhaps, who I have become is no longer comfortable. I have to accept that I don’t ‘fit’ them, anymore. That they, too, may be fighting the temptation to judge me for not seeing things how they now do. That my 'homecoming' has been a huge adjustment for them, too.
What I am not sure of is, what do I do with all of this? How do I reflect the love of Jesus in the midst of the hurt and rawness? Of being disappointed, and of disappointing others?
For now, I haven’t worked out what to do to make this better. And, it won’t necessarily be easy, because I am only one side of the equation. I can shove my ill-fitting pants back into the closet, hoping they may fit at a later date. Or, since they are still nice, without holes or stains, I could donate them, allowing someone else to enjoy them.
But, people are not pants. I can’t control them. It is not my right to treat them as if I can. Instead, it is my ‘right’ in the blood of Jesus to love them as He loved me. First. Before I understood my need for it.
God help me! Help me to love with Jesus’ love, which is big enough to handle growing and changing. Which blesses and sends out, not resenting or despising who the other has become. Which celebrates the ‘then’ while acknowledging a ‘now’ which leads in different directions.
Love which is confident that He who began His good work in each of His children, will see it through to completion, and bring us all Home to perfect unity.
Until that day, God help me love in the great fits and not so good ones. In the challenges and frustrations of living life among brokenness. Help me, God, for I cannot do this without You.