I am both old and new.
I am both the little girl I was, and the woman I am becoming. I am still what I wish I wasn’t, and not yet what I wish to be. All of these are parts of me. They are the puzzle pieces, the missing pieces for this modge-podge cacophony of a life.
How do we reconcile it? Sometimes the present doesn’t seem to have a fighting chance against the past and the future— the giants of time. The present is hard to capture— fleeting and capricious. Sometimes all I feel is the inescapable past, and all I hope for is the future.
I want grace be the link between the was, is, and will be. I want grace to heal the scared little girl who can’t keep up with the dreams of the adult. I have to be friends with both parts of me. I can no longer bully that scared little girl into silence. She’s been through a lot.
I sat in a lobby waiting for an audition today. The lobby was the same as I’d left it nine years ago, when I’d made it to the final callback out of thousands of girls for the lead role in my favorite composer’s brand new musical. It was just the same, except for a poster of the musical I did not book. For years, I wore the loss of that part like a scar. In my final callback, I’d completely and royally screwed up some sight-singing. I watched my Broadway dreams crumble as I failed completely, utterly, hopelessly on that song. The little girl I was at the time was no match for the person I was trying to be. The little girl inside of me was named that day:
Failure. Failure never hurts so much as to come so close, when victory is just beyond your fingertips.
So, there she was: Failure. Contending with Ambition and Striving and Perfectionism. It was a toxic mix of Old and New, breeding insecurity and jealousy. It was the Old I couldn’t shake because I was paralyzing the Old with the New. Failure remained my “friend” for a good five years. Then, I had a dream in which I revisited that final callback. Instead of reliving my deepest shame, someone else was in the room with me. An angel. And that angel stayed by my side and held me close when the notes didn’t come, when the song didn’t sound like it should have. The angel showed me that now was time for New. That I didn’t need to punish myself any longer. That I needed a super-sized helping of grace to heal the damage I’d inflicted. I needed to let the Old and the New be friends.
Today, as I sat in that lobby staring at the poster of the show I didn’t get, that had haunted me for years, the strangest thing happened. I smiled. I smiled at that poster, because it was all gone: the shame, the fear, the failure. The Old no longer haunted. Instead, I felt this legacy. This rich history of perseverance and determination. But most of all, I felt redemption. It had come full circle. Nine years later, I was back in the same place, but newer. With more love for myself, more stories to keep me strong, more confidence in my Maker, and less on the line for this project. Yes, this is redemption for me.
I no longer want to evict the Old, erase it, or purge it. But I want to redefine it, re-remember it. That’s where the New can come in. The New no longer has permission to bully and sabotage what I was; only to spill and pour and heap grace upon grace upon the Old. Who I was is still as much of who I am. I will be ashamed of her no more.