When I was in the 4th grade, at 9-years old I was bullied by one of my classmates. One day as we were getting ready to leave for the day, she came up to me and demanded that I tie her shoes. I refused, and demanded that she tie her own shoes. Her response was to slap me in my face, and then run away before I could react. I went home, and told my mother about it. She promptly went up to the school the next day, and not only demanded to speak with the Principal, but my teacher and…my bully.
My mother discovered that my bully was going through a complicated home situation. She firmly expressed that as unfortunate as the home situation was, her actions were unacceptable and would not be tolerated. After that, the bully and I rarely interacted. She never bothered me anymore and eventually she moved away.
Fast forward to maybe 5 years ago. I received a friend request on Facebook from this same person. I was shocked, curious and reluctant all at the same time. Before accepting or declining her request, I checked out her page and saw she had gotten married, had a few children, and seemed genuinely normal and friendly so I accepted her request.
After that point we interacted a bit, and I mentioned to a mutual friend that I was surprised that she reached out to me of all people. I later learned that she didn’t even remember the incident at all. She had grown and changed and was no longer “my bully” or the same person she used to be.
True growth and a change of heart, mind, body or perspective can be the beginning of a whole new life. We have no idea what another person has gone through, or how life has impacted who or even how they are right now. Our memories and ideals of how a friend, lover or family member used to be may be poignant to us, and relevant to how we feel in the moment, but they don’t necessarily mesh and match with reality. That can be difficult.
Take comfort in knowing that God’s love for us is unchanging. Because of that, he’s there to usher us through our own journey’s when we know we are being led or when a loved one’s transformation leaves us temporarily having no idea what they are doing or what direction they are headed in. As hard as it may be, sometimes what may be good for someone else isn’t necessarily “bad” for us, it’s just not for us.
Someone else’s growth doesn’t have to stunt yours. If God’s will is permitted to be done, who are we to try to stop or even pause it for the sake of holding on to what was rather than embracing what is? Instead of being afraid of what comes next, ask God to prepare you for whatever it may be, and then… let it happen.