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I’ve been thinking a lot over the past year about how people change and grow. Because I’ve been in an acute and concentrated stage of transformation, I felt like I’ve lacked perspective in this area.

A friend once said to me that “people are constantly fractured, constantly evolving”. I argued that I thought there was only one big and true change that can occur in a person’s lifetime and that there are simply moments and times when you run away from yourself and try on new things.

If that’s true, then I am terrified. I don’t want to believe that my only big change was when my heart was redeemed, because I have seen the ugliness in my heart that I am capable of time and time again after that change. I want to believe that God is bigger than all of that, that He can continually take all that is unholy and all the damage that I wreak, and make something better out of me.

My friend continued, saying that “there are moments where I could take two totally opposite paths and be true to myself. Within me are different forces and facets working with each other and against each other. If we are fundamentally the same, there is still much under there that lies unseen.” I think that’s much closer to the truth.

How can I be this soul with depths that I can’t comprehend, be made in the image of God, and yet still remain unique and the same, in spite of growth and experiences? It seems paradoxical that I remain fundamentally myself even though I am constantly renewed, transformed, and purified. Can my design really be a glimpse into the nature of God Himself? If I am truly this complex, then I can’t begin to comprehend the complexity of the Creator.

C.S. Lewis touches on this, and also reminds me of who I interact with daily.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

When I, or another, is in one of these stages, when it feels like self is slipping away and chaos takes hold, I start to panic. I start to wonder if my world will ever be the same again, or if I really knew myself or the other person at all. I have done this continually, even though God proves Himself just as frequently.

But then, I am slowly starting to gain perspective and see the bigger picture. As an individual, I have gone through many rough personal stages already and been through difficult times, but I know that I am better for it and have learned a great deal.

Maybe times of struggle, even ones where we see ourselves or people close to us slipping away and turning into something unfamiliar, aren’t so bad. Maybe it isn’t so terrible that we are forced to walk through those times even though the outcome is uncertain. Maybe there are times to step back and stay safe, when things become toxic.

What I do know, and what I believe to be the most comforting thing of all, is that situations are only hopeless and people are only beyond help when God is out of the picture. I know He isn’t, and that in spite of my fears, I will persist in “considering it all joy”.