Have you ever had to go through the growing pains of establishing a new you in an old you place? Its’ definitely a process of growth and adjustment, on your part as well as the people around you. That’s where I find myself these days…
Good news! One of my dearest and oldest friends just opened a restaurant in the town I grew up in, and has hired me as a server a few nights a week! I told someone recently that, “its employment by friendship default…which is fine by me!” I first met Gina about 15 years ago at another restaurant here in RI where we both waited tables. We became fast friends and when I got married in 2005, she was one of my bridesmaids.
Josh and I had been living in NC for just a year before we got married. We moved back to RI for the summer before our October 1st wedding, using that time to work at seasonal restaurants to help pay for the big day. Right after our honeymoon, we moved back to NC and stayed there for 9 more years. We accomplished a ton while living down south. We had 3 beautiful boys, we bought a house, Josh got a degree in mechanical engineering at NC State, we both experienced tremendous personal growth, and I became I Christ follower.
Making the decision to follow Christ, naturally also came with some fundamental changes that altered and even replaced certain characteristics associated with the ‘old me’. The way I think changed, my views on significant issues changed, the way I speak changed, the things I care about most changed, my activities changed…pretty much, every aspect of consequence in my life changed in one way or another.
So, moving back to RI has, in a way, placed me smack dab in front of the old me. I get comments like, “Kate, what happened to you? You used to, ______(fill in the blank).” Or “Where’s the old Kate?” Or “You seem so different.” Sometimes I take it as a compliment and other times I know that I’m set apart from the crowd I used to belong to.
At times, I can see that ‘old Kate’. She pops up in my brain and the thoughts she would have had are there and I could say the thing she would have said just to elicit laughs, or for attention, or to make someone else seem ‘less than’ while making myself seem better somehow. I imagine it would be so easy to fall right back to the ‘old Kate’ and it wouldn’t feel weird, but sort of comfortable. But, like I told Gina when she commented on how different I am now, “I’ve lived life both ways, and for me, this way is better.”
I’m not worried about reverting to the past, but I am trying to figure out how to manage this ‘new Kate’ in an ‘old Kate’ world. It doesn’t feel as easy as it did down south. In NC, most of my friends were Christians; churches down there are like Dunkin’ Donuts up here…one on every corner! 😉 Its’ apparent there will be a process of allowing people a chance to get to know me as a new creation.
Maybe you can relate on some level? Making a decision that sets you apart from a group you operate in is challenging. It could be a decision to stop drinking when it seems everyone around you does. Maybe the decision to get your finances under control, prohibits you from carrying on in the old budget frame of mind, while your inner circle makes it routine to meet out for meals or shopping together. Or, are you the only Christian in your workplace and you’re trying to balance your faith in a place where no one else shares your beliefs? Or, have you decided to follow Christ, while family or friends don’t ? Perhaps the ones closest to you have challenged your new way or even poked fun at it? (I’ve been there!) It takes some decided effort and dedication to establish a new standard of living that’s drastically different than what you’re accustomed to.
In my case, deciding to walk with Christ is not just a Sunday, Easter, Christmas thing. Most of my life I believed you get a little dose of God on Sunday and then go about your week and the two have nothing to do with one another. How wrong I was! Choosing to follow Him, means every day, every minute, everywhere. Right? And Sunday is great for praise and worship but if you leave Him at the alter and don’t carry the principles and precepts with you as you operate daily life through the rest of the week, then you’re missing the point. Those “be like Jesus” guidelines are not there to utilize on Sunday alone or to let hang in the ether, attached to the greater power without connecting it to your every day. Those things can help you mange a ‘new you’ in an ‘old you’ world!
C.S. Lewis explained that, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” Reading some of what C.S. Lewis said about his relationship with God and his choice to become a Christian, helped me see that it isn’t always easy. You’re not a Christian because you want an easy road…because you’re looking for a quick fix on happiness. It is often times uncomfortable, unpopular, and unaccommodating…and falling short of the ultimate goal is a commonality. We are Christian because we believe Jesus sacrificed his own life so that we can be closer to God, so that we can be one with Him, and that we will know Him in every moment of our life journey.
I have to let go of the notion that if I keep pressing on in my ‘new me’ fashion, the Christian road in the ‘old me’ world will be easier at some point. It won’t. But that’s a good thing. I want to be noticed for being different than I was!
2 Corinthians 3:18
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit..”
That’s what I want to show, what I want people to see in me! That with every passing minute, my desire to be more like Him is made real through the spirit that works within me… as one degree of glory is traded for another and another and another. Noticeably different…noticeably exemplifying the principles Jesus modeled.
So, being a new creation in an old world (for me as a Christian), may not always be easy or comfortable but its’ value is made clearer when I continually trade one level of grace for another as I grow and evolve. When you come to the realization that life, for you, is better in this new way, there’s no turning back!
“For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Til’ next time, be blessed!
(Please re-post and share!! Thank you for reading!)