Do you ever see yourself in the past, through a photograph, a video, through the eyes of an old friend or relative, or maybe a memory that flashes through your mind after hearing a certain song? Whatever the triggering moment, sometimes we fleetingly see our past selves. It can be a jarring experience. This was the case for me today when I edited this video.
I shared the story behind this angels painting in a June blog post called “Are you an angel?“. When I painted this I was still using my old camcorder and the footage is grainy. I tried to brighten and fix it today, but there was only so much I could do. I changed the music and smoothed the footage out a bit. That’s about all I can do since the raw footage isn’t very good. While I was editing the video, I felt like I was looking at a stranger.
This younger version of me doesn’t look vastly different from who I am now, yet I barely recognize myself. Why? Has it been so long ago that I’ve aged into a different person? That’s unsettling, and a bit of a shock. No, I don’t think that’s it.
I studied the face in the video and realized that I look sad. I painted this before we moved to Ireland. I think it was the year after Mom died, when we sold the house we’d worked so hard to build (I shared some of this with you in a post called “Downsizing our Dreams“), and when our first child went away to college. In such a short period of time I lost my only remaining close relative, my child left home, I lost my job (my home studio and arts program that I had built from nothing and had dedicated so much to), and my husband, who was losing his job, had just had surgery.
No wonder I was sad! But my melancholy wasn’t solely about our circumstances and hardships. In brokenness, we find healing. We learn what parts of ourselves we want to put back together, and which pieces we don’t. This process can feel profoundly sad, as we may be temporarily lost.
When we lose the people, places, and purpose that defined us, we have an opportunity to make different choices. This can be a liberating and life-changing experience. We can be more of who we were always meant to be. But, for a while, we may not know who that person is. It was during this period of brokenness that I painted the angels art. When I saw my sad face in that video, it struck me how far I’ve come.
Have you ever had a period of reflection like this, that hits you out of the blue? May we feel proud of how far we’ve come and the journey it took to get there. May we find joy in endurance, and passion for the road ahead. The journey never ends; we merely find easier paths from time to time, never knowing when the terrain will prove difficult again. When we look back on who we used to be, may we feel blessed to be who we are now, and encouraged that the best is yet to come.
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