“Who I was meant to be” popped up in two separate songs recently on my favorite contemporary Christian station. The phrase grabbed hold of me and has yet to let go. It represents hope: hope that I’m not forever destined to remain the wounded, stunted human being that I began as.
If I’m honest, I didn’t start out trying to become a better person. While I don’t feel like I was ever really bad, I cringe when remembering some of the things I’ve done, some of them not that long ago. I’m not totally sure how my journey of improvement started. A brush with mortality in my late 30’s was a catalyst, though that wasn’t all of it. Much of it, I think, was just getting experience under my belt: I eventually realized, through thousands of interactions with hundreds of people over a couple of decades, that people are a desert, and in the desert you don’t need much water to make an impact. It’s not only more rewarding to make people feel good, it’s addictive. It became circular: the better I behaved, the better I wanted to behave. It wasn’t intentional, but I was changing from the inside out. I now wish I could go back and do so many things over again, but that’s never an option, is it? All we can ever do is learn and go forward from here.
I suppose that’s one of the most comforting aspects of Christianity…that no matter my unique flaws, no matter my regrets, no matter how shriveled my heart started out…as long as I allow the water of love to help me bloom, I am welcomed as a beloved child returning home. I am grateful for that mercy, for I have needed every minute of my life until now to earn my meager, hard-won progress. I am still very far from who I was meant to be, but I am closer today than I was before. And I won’t give up. I like who I was meant to be, much better than who I was.
“He said ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.'” –The Velveteen Rabbit