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Have you ever had an experience that was like seeing yourself in a mirror, only what’s staring back at you isn’t a reflection of who you are today, but of who you would’ve been had you not changed? I had a former-self-in-the-mirror encounter yesterday, and it was both eye opening and disorienting at the same time. (Sometimes Facebook memories are good for this. You can see what you used to think, and it’s almost like viewing a different person’s life. Who was I back then? How did I become who I am now?)

Rather than belabor the experience itself, or beat myself up for who I used to be, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the growth. And, I wanted to invite you to celebrate the growth in your own life, too.

Today I am celebrating that I’m not motivated by fear and shame nearly as often as I used to be. I am learning to quiet the voice that asks, “What will other people think of me if ________?” Of course, that voice is still there, but I’ve learned to call it out for what it is: the voice of shame telling me I would not be loved if people knew the truth about me. Would they still love me if they saw my messy house? Hey, voice of shame, if they stop loving me because my house is a mess, that’s on them and not on me.

I am discovering that my life and faith follow less of a script these days. I am slower to offer answers, and quicker to listen and consider perspectives different from my own. Life is so much easier when everything fits neatly into a category. It takes the uncertainty out of life, and for a control freak like me, that’s comforting. But, I’m learning that there is freedom in the messy, unpredictable, mysterious parts of life and faith. A god that can be figured out and explained is more a god of my own making and less the unfathomable God of the universe.

I’m leaning into courage instead of fear, authenticity instead of shame, and mystery instead of certainty. And while I’m far from perfect at any of these things, I’m celebrating the growth in my life rather than shaming myself for the flaws, foibles, and fumbles in my past.

Even though I don’t know what future me is going to look like, I am celebrating where God has brought me today. I’m seeking after where God will lead me tomorrow. And I’m curious about what change and growth I will experience along the way. Future me may be unpredictable, but I think I’m good with that.

Reader 1: The psalmist writes that God has searched us and known us (Psalm 139:1). We change and grow and become who God made us to be, but our journey is not a surprise to God.
Reader 2: Psalm 139 continues, “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well” (verses 13-14).

Reader 1: Our pasts can be a source of shame for us. We might look back at who we were and feel convicted, or sorry, or ashamed.
Reader 2: We confess the times we have wronged others and wronged ourselves. We acknowledge the places where we have fallen short. And we claim the promise of God’s forgiveness and grace.

Reader 1: We also celebrate where God has brought us. We give thanks for growth and change, and for the way God directs our paths. We are imperfect people, people in progress, but God continues to shine the light of God’s love on us. <light candle at this time>
Reader 2: May we lean in to courage, reach out for God’s direction, and let go of our desire for control. God is going ahead of us, and God loves us and welcomes us–the imperfect works-in-progress that we are–for we are God’s masterpiece.

God of growth and change, you found us, called us, and are transforming us. We are not who we were when we first found you. Give us the grace to accept who we were, the confidence to lean into who we are, and the courage to continue pursuing who you’ve called us to be. Thank you for meeting us where we are and for transforming our rough edges into something beautiful. Amen.

Other posts in the Lengthening the Light series

Light out of Formlessness

Light in the Attic

When You Can’t Take Another Step

St. Therese’s Little Way

What We Need Is a Celebration