Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When the Past Comes Back

One day not too long ago, one of the girls who had gotten themselves into a bit of hot water for something asked in complete frustration "how do you always find out these things!?" (referring to me catching her doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing). I reminded her that I don't always find out about every single bad thing she ever did, but that it's purely by God's providence that I find out about enough of them so that I can correct her and give her the discipline she needs as she grows up. I reminded her that "be sure your sin will find you out" is quite true, and in more than one way. It's the same for all of us, no matter if we're little kids or grown ups.

Sometimes, that's very uncomfortable. Sometimes it's even quite embarassing, or humiliating if it's a secret or a past lifestyle that we'd rather keep hidden.

While I don't have any big, dark secrets that would destroy me if they were revealed (as far as I know, anyway, which is very good since I talk in my sleep and might reveal my double life as a secret agent, or something), there is a part of my past that I'm certainly not very proud of and it bothers me quite often. The part I refer to is the mean-streak I had in me as a kid. It bothers me so much that I actually blogged about one of the examples several years go, in hopes that the people I was mean to might someday see it and realize how sorry I am. It seemed like a real stretch to think that the boy I was really mean to in kindergarten would ever find me, or find that post and read it... until this week, when one of the girls I named in that post (that was in my kindergarten class) actually did find me and befriend me on Facebook. The world is getting smaller every day, so it's not really such a stretch to think kids you knew 40 years ago could easily find you today.

While I may not have all the details exact, I wrote about that above example the best I remember it. See, in my mind, I was the meanest little girl ever to walk the face of the earth. I would certainly hope that isn't how other people saw me, but it's the way I remember some things. The tricky thing about memories is, however, is that they are not always what actually happened, or include the right details about who was there, what was said, etc. I know I've often heard things from younger people about things that were said or done "when they were little" that I know for a fact aren't true or accurate, because I was there. Kids remember events much differently when they experience them as kids, as a grown up will when they were present during the same experience. For some reason, the way a kid remembers it is quite often much more controversial or explosive, than the way the adult will remember the same event. In a way, I honestly hope that my memory of my childhood mean-streak is just far more exaggerated in my own mind, than what it really was in actuality.

So what in the world am I rambling on about, you wonder? It's simple really. My heart grieves for the bratty little girl I used to be. I wish I could take her aside and talk to her and get her to understand that there are better ways to deal with anger and frustration. Of course I can't do that, but I still wish I could. I also wish I could get in contact with the kids who once knew me (and may not have such a fond memory of me) and express to them my genuine apology for being such a little booger. Part of me wishes I could do that, and part of me hopes they either a.) don't share the same memory of me as a kid as I recall or b.) if they do, they find out through some awesome orchestration of God, that the little brat they once knew is not at all the same person.

In our day, it's getting easier all the time to reconnect with people you probably thought you'd never see or hear from again. For the ladies, if you're married and no longer use your maiden name but you have brothers close the same age as you (who knew the same people growing up) or are registered anywhere on a highschool or college reunion site, it's really easy to find you. Just today I saw someone post a link on twitter to a site that reveals a disturbing amount of info on just about any name you can type in. I typed in mine, and learned I was a 30something black lady living in South Carolina. Not very accurate for me, but I did type in some other names and much of the info that came up was eerily accurate. Thing is, it's all public info and/or info that people themselves share online (pics, urls, email addresses, etc.) combined with property tax records, marriage/death/birth certificate records and more. In many places, all you have to have is a tiny bit of accurate info to get a flood of more in depth info on just about anyone.

So I said all that to say this: If anyone from my past shows up and says "hey, you were a real knucklehead!" then I genuinely apologize to you in advance. I wasn't the nicest kid in the world and purely by God's grace, I made it to adulthood and am now quite joyfully and humbly serving the Lord. I am not at all the person I used to be, and for that, I am so thankful.

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