Letting People Change

Lately I’ve been thinking about people and places in my past. Perhaps it’s the do-you-knows on facebook, maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s just growing older…

Still, I’ve been challenged about the way I press pause on people and places. I look back at how someone behaved or didn’t behave, I think about the theology of churches I’ve been involved in and I realise I have set them in concrete instead of water.

When I think about who I am now, I hope they don’t have me set in stone as I was then.

But I do that to them, and it’s wrong.

People are always changing and growing. I am changing and growing. I have been immature, selfish, arrogant, unkind, impatient… I could go on…. and I’m not finished with those flaws but I hope I’m less-so than I was.

Lately I’ve been challenged to let go of my perceptions and judgements of my past.

Yes people hurt me, yes I have hurt people. Yes churches had different ways of seeing things than I do now, or maybe I understood them differently than I do now but, that doesn’t mean that they are still like that.

It seems very unfair to not give grace to allow others to change over time just because I haven’t journeyed with them.

Maybe if I only ever met Peter in the courtyard while Jesus was on trial I’d deduce that he was kind of weak and fearful. If I never met him again I might not discover that he actually became rather bold in time, that he later died for what he once denied.

If I met Saul when he was on a genocide mission for Christians I might have never believed the person he could become.

If I set a person, an organisation, a church, in stone I am essentially saying ‘that’s who they are, they will always be that way, they cannot change, God cannot change them‘ and if I say that, and believe it, then I am declaring it about myself too.

I don’t want that for me.

I want people to believe that I will have changed. I want them to remember the better aspects of my character and trust that God is making more of those and less of my imperfections.

I’m challenged to allow the world to go on changing and developing even if I’m not there to see it. I’m challenged to think people might be a little different, better even, than I remember them.

I’m allowing some old ways of thinking to be confronted because I want to be allowed to be a changing and different person – so maybe I need to extend the same to others.

God your reach is everlasting, your redemption never ending, your work never finished and I want to keep on changing. Give me the grace to never be cynical, the maturity to judge people by their best intentions and the humility to know that none of us are there yet and you have good plans for all of us. Give me faith to know you can change any of us, even me. Let me love with an expansive heart that always believes people will have journeyed forward in the best of ways.

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