The day my daughter turned 18, she sought me out and asked breathlessly, “So, when does it happen?” I looked at her earnest face and asked what she meant.
“I’ll know everything.” She wanted to know if all the confidence and knowledge adults had would just download into her brain. Or did she need to wait until she’d been 18 for 24 hours?
Come to think of it, she might have had more smirk than earnestness in her smile.
I have a friend who used an interesting phrase about teenagers. She calls it the stage where they “try on all different kinds of personalities.”
I love the grace in that because we shouldn’t hold kids to all the things they say and think when they’re 14. Neither should we freak out about them. Maybe that’s why many people sever ties to their youth at some point. They aren’t who they were.
However, at 47 years old, I’m not the same person I was last summer. I’m not trying on personalities like a freshman in high school, but I am different. Maybe this is one reason a prophet has no honor in his hometown. Everyone knows who you were. They changed your diapers. (Or they’re going to change your diapers in the future.)
Recently, I asked someone, “Do you still believe (this thing you said)?”
Incredulous, the person replied, “Why would I have said that? It’s not true.” They didn’t feel like they had ever believed it. How unfortunate that I’d held it in my heart for so many years.
Now I realize the danger of all my verbal processing. Even when I’ve done it in front of family—maybe especially with family. I think of the things I’ve said to my kids which I no longer believe, and the things I said which I never believed.
The problem is, sometimes you need to say it out loud to hear the truth from the lie. Sometimes you need to try it on. And some thoughts we wear are not truth, they’re just fashionable. So let them change.
You’re lucky if someone loves you enough to call you out and say, “Do you still believe this thing you said?” More often, people probably just let that statement define you in their mind.
I think there’s two points. First, let someone come back from something they’ve said. Don’t always assume their words are a definitive and notarized last statement. Even if they act like as though they are fully convinced of the matter.
Second, be careful who you work out and verbalize ideas with. Ideally, it’s with someone safe. I have a precious friend who once said to me, “But you know that’s not true.” No judgement, she let me say it. She let me come back. Sometimes the best thing is to have a conversation out loud, so you can hear it, and alone with God. My favorite place is in the car.
Since I’m essentially writing what I process on this blog, I’d like to reserve the right someday to direct you back to my first point.
Is there anyone you love enough to clarify what they meant?