A few months back, I discovered a trove of old WordPress posts. Most were written when I was around 25, navigating a love-hate relationships with faith and the church, and seduced all too often by romantic overtures — most of which came to naught.
I make it a point to peruse these posts every so often. It’s painful, I don’t mind telling you, but it’s also illuminating. Where did I come from? What was I passionate about?
And then, the inevitable reflection on today’s Jeff: Have I somehow lost those passions? Have I lost my purpose, my way?
The answers are not as revelatory as I’d like. Inspired by gilded church history, some of my posts were an effort to mimic early Christian apostolic writing — presumably so I could step inside the minds of martyrs and saints. I remember the prompt, ages ago: What could possibly compel these model evangelists to give up professions, family, friends to wander aimlessly about in painful efforts of conversion? And how could they be so in love with one thing all else became inconsequential? Could I ever experience the same?
My answer now is the same as it was then: Maybe? Maybe I’m not built for it.
Then there are the dating tribulations, a hodgepodge of mea culpas and self-pitying diatribes, clumsily molded into moral lessons. Some of it is even hyper sexual — testing the limits of my goody-two-shoes-ness. Was I grabbing at relationship ideals? Searching for paths of acceptable sexual exploration? Pushing the envelope and soaking in taboos? Simply flailing in emotional limbo?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Am I now? … Maybe?
As I dig through these posts, I not-so-secretly hope that answers will come to me — or perhaps I will realize answers came long since.
For the most part, that’s not true. And it’s discouraging.
I know I’m not alone in this. Most of us look back on past selves, yearning for certainty and direction in the now, and recognize our present selves are equally as wayward. Maybe our priorities, our goals have changed, but answers still elude us.
Not much comfort in any of this, except: The more I cycle through this reflection and realization, the easier it becomes to shed worry and live in the moment. To accept what I would never have accepted. To spend my energy on what really matters.
Easier said than done. But easier now than it was 15 years ago.