For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. Luke 19:10
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up on the last day. John 6:44
Exhausted from the packing, I paused at the kitchen island with “my Tub” – over thirty years of memories I had stored in the attic–a heavy rubbermaid container that I could still lug down the stairs, with a rest on my leg each step.
Love letters from my 17 year-old boyfriend [now husband of 32 years] filled a plastic shoe box with the cracked yellow lid. The letters I had wanted to keep for some reason, but I never wanted my kids to read. [insert shocked emoticon here]
My infant baptismal garment displaying the capital “P” with an “x” over the stem of it, crocheted by my grandma Leroux. She made one for each of her grandchildren. At least the first dozen of us or so. I’d always looked at it tucked in the now, somewhat crushed, cardboard box with the plastic window framing the “Px” as something sacred. Seeing it brought a similar feeling to the way I felt about stepping on a gravestone when Dad took us to the cemetery on Memorial Day to honor the fallen.
I was fearfully careful to avoid stepping where I saw a slight mound of earth over a casket. I looked at the garment’s antiquity and paused over memories of the reverence I’d felt for sacred things, instilled by my parents.
The Tub also contained letters from an aunt that I corresponded with for a season after she moved to North Carolina. The letters stopped after she let me know that something I’d written had offended her. I had written an apology, now unsure of its value. I’d then parked the letters, thankful for the friendship I’d had with her and, by some intervention of God in my young heart, had not let the way things ended distort the joy I took from that season of correspondence. Though I did feel regret that it had ended, because she had recently passed away and it had been years since I’d seen her.
And my journals, a record of my younger days, handwritten in spiral-bound, wide-lined Mead Notebooks. Scribbles and scratches and confessions and prayers . . .
After all these years, I was actually going to look through the box and read through a few things. Both kids are out of the house, through college, and recently married. To my knowledge, they never snuck into the Tub in the attic and read the notes. For that, I was thankful as I read them. I smiled, laughed, sucked in my breath a few times, wincing – and placed most of them in the paper sack that I took outside to the fire.
I kept a few of the more innocent letters. I wondered when he stopped calling me Sugar. Ha ha, sometimes he called me “Sug” for short. How I loved him calling me that.
I saw that I had a measure of mature understanding at sixteen that surprised my nearly 50 year old self, and I noticed that the maturity was combined with a bizarre blindness to reality. [hello high-school mentality!]
My feelings had blinded me to reality much of my young life. Anxiety had often blocked my learning opportunities. Lonely and self-aware, insecure and fearful that I was what some would term now as a “loser” – the way I often perceived myself, especially between the ages of 12 and 16. I’ve regretted that lost and wasted time. And much of my life since those days, I’ve been seeking and learning to live free of bondage to emotions.
I’m so thankful for the passing of time, maturity and the Truth that has set me free.
I was raised to know about God. We attended church every Sunday and many Wednesday nights. I had always loved thinking about God and loved being in church. I talked to God often throughout my life, and was a bit amused when I saw that my written prayers were laced with cuss words, and confessions of the guilt I felt at having pre-marital sex [but the guilt obviously didn’t stop me.]
It reminded my almost 50 year old Bible-teacher self of the keychains I had recently seen hanging at the check-out of a thrift store: “Jesus is my homeboy.”
One of the first things to go when I turned fully to Jesus at the age of 24 was my potty mouth. At first I didn’t realize that it was an issue. But one day, my husband was so irritated with hearing me cuss that he held up a large proverbial mirror to the offensiveness of it. I don’t remember what exactly he said, but I suddenly felt filthy. And from that moment on, by the grace of God, I quit.
There have been a few times since then that cuss words have entered my head, [mercy!] but I cannot think of a time when they’ve left my lips. By the grace of God and my growing disgust of hearing them, I live my life cuss-free. And because I do, it was offensive to my spirit to read my own language from my youth.
But ultimately, I found it fun to meet my 16 year old self that day. I found I liked her a lot more than I had liked her back in her day, and found myself so grateful that I could see the foundation God had built in my life to draw me to Himself and eventually win my heart completely.
The journaling I did back then served as a place to express my heart. The words I had written were windows to my soul. And reading them all these years later enabled me to reach back into the reality of life inside the head of a high-schooler and understand better what confusion takes place in one searching, yearning heart.
And to trace the hand of God in my life has given me a greater understanding for how He works to woo and win those who He came to save.
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