It it an undeniable truth, that we as human beings are affected by what happens to us, around us, and occasionally by us. We are born into families who culturally, emotionally, relationally and physically affect the way we grow. In the most part this is a positive, but we all know that even from an early age, negative influences can change us for the worse. And that is only the start.
I was out for dinner with my husband when unexpectedly someone who I knew many years ago appeared in the same restaurant as us. My initial reaction was to ignore my fear, that seeing that person would dredge back up all the things I want to forget about who I used to be. I carried on talking with my husband as if nothing had affected me, but as soon as they were out of my sight, I pointed out to him that I knew them from my past and that I was really nervous.
My husband is my best friend and we talk about everything, so explaining why I was anxious was easy, because he understood, I didn’t need to recount my past in order for him to sympathise with how I was feeling. We were able to talk about the best method for dealing with the situation without making either party uncomfortable, but there was one thing he said that really helped me.
We are not who we once were.
That phrase is empowering. It’s true for all of us. Everyday we wake up we are being changed.
One way of explaining it is that, we are like clay on a potters wheel. We are being moved and shaped and built up and re-modelled every day of our lives, and while some days the change may seem insignificant, there are still changes happening; if not relationally, emotionally or culturally, certainly physically.
I look back at the person I was ten years ago and I can now see a lot of what everyone around me saw. Positive things that I thought were non existent and negative things that I didn’t want to know about. And yet today there are still things that I don’t see in myself that others probably do, and things I do see in my self that just aren’t true.
That is why having people around you who, build you up and support you, help you to be the best version or yourself are so important. They may only be with you for a few days, but those positive interactions are contributing to the person you will be. Equally sometimes having people who show up your negative attributes are actually helpful. If you think about it like sifting for gold, you have to get rid of the dirt to find the treasure. We might not always see how an interaction can change us for the better, but I certainly know that good things have come from bad situations in my life.
This however, is not the final stop of personal development, we will continue to grow and change and learn and make mistakes, because we are human, but the choices we make will influence the person we become, and equally the friendships we have will too.
I thought about going over to their table after my husband and I had finished eating to chat with them, to see how they were, to ask what had brought them to the area, but I am not that out going person, and I didn’t want to “show off” how much I’ve changed, so as we stood up to leave I turned around, got their attention and smiled and waved sincerely, that I was happy to see them doing so well.
I just hope that it was a positive situation for them, because they are not who they once were, and I hope that my simple gesture of good will, might have been helpful.