I remember being a teenager and my Dad telling me the story behind Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” song. I don’t remember if I asked him the back story or he was just telling me, but what I do remember is the bittersweet truth – the story of people who have known you to be one way and becoming uncomfortable and disapproving when you’re not who they have known you to be anymore.
Standing one year out from where I was last year I feel like I have some legitimate authority on this subject. We all know there are stages of grief, but I do think there are also stages of change when it is observed from the outside. Confusion, betrayal, anger, intolerance, skepticism, acceptance, indifference, praise, support… I’ve had all of those emotions directed at me at some point. When you step out of the box people have put you in your whole life or as long as you have known them it can sometimes cause those around us to become uncomfortable.
Whether that uncomfortable feeling comes from insecurities, envy, or a lack of understanding I can’t say – as someone who went through fire to change it’s not my responsibility to figure it out and it shouldn’t be yours either. I have nothing left to prove. I make those statements now with no reservations, no timidity, no doubt in myself or my capabilities or where I have come from. What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals? They’re just as important as anyone else’s but they will surely look different from your own.
The best answer is to keep doing what you are doing. Don’t explain yourself, don’t defend yourself, don’t second guess yourself. “…No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same…” Unfortunately, instead of listening to a beautiful new song, sometimes there will be those around us who get so caught up in the us of the past or the songs we used to sing that they don’t even open themselves up to the new lyrics of our life.
Shine your light so bright that the only people who will come along with you on your journey are the ones who are so close to you they’re not blinded by the light – they see it, too. Sometimes you cannot explain the path God has put you on. Just because people in your life doubt you does not mean God doubts you. A sailboat will no doubt face difficulties, but when our compass is set on the right path it will reach its destination. Don’t let the winds of unacceptance or judgement blow your compass needle to lead you to crash your boat and settle on the shore.
“Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” – Unknown