Part of my reflectiveness, though, came from a preoccupation with decorating my house. As August gave way to September, I was consumed with the desire to change the look of our home--to go from the breezy, cool look of summer to the warm, cozy look of autumn. In addition, Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick hosted a "Before and After" party, inviting her readers to share photos of some of their transformation projects. And today, Jen at Sanctuary Arts at Home is having a "You should have seen it before" party. Apparently a lot of us like to see befores and afters.
Somehow, the convergence of these events got me to thinking about the "before and after" pictures of my life. It's a subject that intrigues me on several levels. On a purely physical level, I'm fascinated by before-and-after pictures because I have some pretty dramatic ones myself. You see, I was the ugly duckling in my family. I was one of three girls. My two sisters were both beautiful girls; they both looked like my mother. And I? Well, I looked a little like my father, but mostly I just looked like myself. And that was not a very pretty picture. For instance, here's a photo of me when I was a junior in high school. This is not one of the horrible pictures. I was actually pretty proud of this picture. It appeared in the local paper. Me and a couple of trophies I'd won at a speech tournament.
Or here's another: my junior class picture.
"Sweet 16 and never been kissed"? Are you kidding? Sweet 16 and never been considered by a boy. My high school years were successful in some ways, but certainly not in the boy department. I never had a single date in high school. Not one. Senior Prom? Not for me.
But it turned out that I was just an ugly duckling. I wouldn't say that I grew up to be a beautiful swan, but I did grow up. And my looks changed. I wasn't expecting it to happen; it just happened. I'll admit that attending my 20th high school reunion was a sweet time for me. My classmates even voted to give me the "20 Years Have Been Kind to You" award.
And while I have no keepsake pictures from the Prom, now I have teenage boys of my own, and I can have my picture taken with them all I want. Like this one:
My heart aches now when I see a high school girl who's not one of the pretty, popular girls. I want to pull her to me, dry her tears, show her my pictures, and tell her that it's not over.
And I think that sometimes this is how God feels about us. When He sees one of us suffering with the state we're in, I think He wants to pull us to Him, dry our tears, show us His pictures, and tell us that it's not over. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). I hear God saying, "Don't worry: the way things look today is not the way they'll always look." And I know it's true.