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“She’s changed,” they said. “She’s not who she once was.” I’m sure, like you I have heard this said maybe once, twice or many times before but if I was to be honest with you I actually really, really like it. None of us are who we once were and often it’s easier to accept it for ourselves rather than others. Why? Because some of us don’t want to admit people change, that they’ve grown, matured. Naturally we can be reluctant to change or feel it’s easier and more familiar to keep on referring to someone as they have always been.
Yet Jesus wants to bring about a newness of life in all of us and in turn help us to have life giving relationships. In Matthew Chapter 9 versus 17 Matthew writes about the fact that you cannot pour new wine into an old wine skin. Jesus is often wanting to do something new within us, new thoughts, new belief patterns. Which means we must change, grow and adapt. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians Chapter 3 versus 18 that we are ALL being transformed into God’s image. We aren’t supposed to stay the same.
A friend was telling me recently that when she returns to her home town she’d frequently bump into people that would call her the same nickname that she had twenty years earlier when they were in school together. Yet she’d grown, matured and yes believe it or not – she had changed. And although she didn’t see herself like that young girl anymore who carried that nickname, others still did. In essence, she had been wrongly judged and her desire was that others would now see her the way that she now did.
So how do you keep fronting up to a specific friendship group, workplace, or even a home town when you’ve changed yet others are still to recognise and/or accept it.
Firstly, remind yourself what God says about you because ultimately that it what is most important. Proverbs Chapter 3 versus 15 says that She is (I am) more precious than rubies. Psalm Chapter 139 versus 14 says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Genesis Chapter 1 versus 27 says that He created me in His own image. If we see ourselves the way that God does eventually others will see it too.
Secondly, decide to live in the present. Accept that not everyone comes on the journey with you. For whatever reason, some friendships may be for a season. It may have been a great season, but more than likely you are now in a new one and that is okay. You can accept that some are still remembering the good old days but you’d rather be living in the present. There may have been conversations that once you were willing to participate in but now you’d rather close down. That is good and proof that God is doing something new in you. Proverbs Chapter 18 verse 21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death. The words that we speak carry a great deal of weight. Stop dragging the past into the present. Allow yourself and others to live in the present.
Thirdly, entrust your reputation to God. Perhaps like many others at some point in your life time you have been wrongly judged. Remember, your reputation is in His hands. Jesus was wrongly judged yet He was willing to entrust His reputation to His Father. If or when we are wrongly judged we ought to do the same thing.
1 Peter 2:22-23 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
Isaiah 61:7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion.
These are His promises for us that we can hold onto.
We are about to enter a new year, a new decade. Which presents many great opportunities to grab a hold of the new and let go of the old. We should not only embrace this for ourselves but also encourage others in all that they are becoming. Allowing others and giving space to others to be all that God is calling them to be. Let’s make 2020 the year of life giving relationships.
Elise Pappas is a Pastor and together with her husband pastor a church on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Sophie. Elise is a former clinical drug trial research coordinator and business owner. She writes about life and ministry experiences.