I have changed. It has taken a lifetime, and I have a lifetime to go, but as surely as I’m sitting here, I have truly changed. Not because of anything I have done, but because Christ has changed my heart.
Back in my 20s, I was selfish, and self-involved. Actually, my whole life, but I’m backing up into my late teens and early 20s. Early sobriety. I was thinking about this time period the other day when I was driving to class. I was thinking specifically about my relationship with my sister, the one closest to me in age.
She and I were always rivals. Probably it was my fault mainly. I wasn’t very kind to her, and I think I was always jealous. I think I felt she was prettier and smarter. We were competitive a lot. I was thinking about a time when she had bought a new car. It was her first new car, and it was a beauty. A black Fiero, if you remember those. It had a spoiler on it, and one of those nose bras that were so popular at the time. I was jealous, I can admit it.
Not long after she had it, she was in a bad accident. Near head on. It was totaled, and she wound up in the hospital, every bone in her foot was dislocated. She was lucky, they just popped the bones back into place. She could have been killed. It was the kind of thing that should make a person stand up and realize that you could have lost someone important to you. Except it didn’t do that for me. I wasn’t moved. And my mom realized that it hadn’t moved me, and said something about it to me, and that made me realize that perhaps there was something wrong with me.
When I got sober, I was in college. I was living in a college town, very small, kind of backwards. There weren’t a ton of meetings, and everybody in AA knew everybody. I had a sponsor who owned a used bookstore. I used to hang out there a lot. They had a table in the back with coffee on and people in the program would drop by and sit around and talk. It was kind of nice.
One day I was talking to my sponsor, and I don’t recall what I said, but my sponsor kind of lost her temper with me and said ‘You gossip about everybody. You gossip all the time. I think you gossip because you want to make yourself feel better about yourself.’ It stunned me and made me feel horribly ashamed of myself. I didn’t realize I did it, and I was horrified.
I can’t say that I changed that aspect about myself overnight. I think I still did it for a very long time. But I was more aware. But that competitive, jealous part of me was definitely still there. And I think that’s the part she might have been referring to.
Well, I’ll tell you what cured me of that. Losing my marriage, when I wished bad things for other people’s marriage. Losing my home when I was prideful about my home. Losing my career prospects when I had pride about my career. Losing my health and sanity. Realizing that nothing, absolutely nothing is promised to me except for salvation though faith in Christ.
So, I was thinking about all of this….and my sister is going through something difficult right now. And I am so sad for her and it’s not fair and I feel like a lioness wanting to fight on her behalf. And she has a great marriage, a beautiful home, a fabulous career, beautiful children, even a cute car, and I’m happy for her. Truly. I want her to have happiness and joy. I hate that she’s going through some difficulty.
I heard a great sermon a few weeks ago, and the pastor referred to Daniel’s former name as (Belteshazzar)….in parenthesis, because that is who he was before, in parenthesis, not who he was in the present. Who I was in my 20s, or 30s, or 40s, is who I was in parenthesis….in the past. It is not who I am.
It’s not who I am.
I wish my kids could see that.
Many of you know….most of you should know that I adore the book The Shack. I love the symbol of the ladybug from that book. I even have a photo of me holding a ladybug with a ray of sunshine across my hand framed on my mantle. It symbolizes healing and forgiveness……for my birthday, my parents gave me a ladybug charm. As I was driving to my class the other day and I was pondering all these things, I fingered my ladybug charm and I realized that it is shaped like a pair of parenthesis. Thank you Jesus.