Saturday, January 23, 2021

Old family photos

I looked at my son and shook my head in wonder. Last year at this time, you were scooting on your bottom, I thought, as he charged across the room. His feet were flying, and it was amazing to remember that in the not-so-distant past, he couldn't even crawl. 

One year can make all the difference. 

Have you ever sat down and sifted through old family photos and videos? Within a period of just a couple years, small children change and develop in dramatic ways. A newborn baby will look, sound, and act differently at one year old. A year later, that child will continue to alter in appearance and, in most cases, be more mobile and verbal. Many people are quick to hold babies as they mournfully reflect that "it goes by so quickly." 

It is normal and expected that children will undergo these--and other--changes. However, at some point in time, we can relegate this business of change and development to children. Subconsciously, without even being aware of it, we can find ourselves looking at older teenagers or adults and thinking they will never change. 

We see another person at a certain point in time and lock that image in our minds. That mental snapshot becomes our point of reference for that person's identity. Our thoughts spiral downward as our fixed mindset grasps control. They will never get better. Things will probably get worse. As we look at other people through this narrow lens, we can begin to hold the same view of ourselves. I will never get better. I can't change. I'm a lost cause.

Look again at those old family photos. 

Throwback to that one time in high school when I dressed
up as Larry Boy for "Superhero Day."

Remember how children change? They are not the only ones. While adults may not look very different from year to year, if we take a picture from five years ago and hold it next to one we took last week, we are likely to see a difference. We may have a different hairstyle or hair color. We may have lost or gained weight. We may be wearing a completely different style of clothing. We have changed. Even if we look at these photos and feel annoyed at the sight of more weight or wrinkles, we can simultaneously rejoice--because this is visible proof that we are not stagnant. We are constantly changing and growing. We are not locked into who we were ten years ago or five years ago or two months ago. We have the ability to learn and develop in different ways. 

We should not cling to bad relationships or put ourselves in unsafe situations because of a hope that someday he/she/they will change. We need to bring healthy boundaries into our relationships and recall that patterns of behavior and decision-making do not disappear overnight. Yet, while the path forward may seem bleak at times, we must not lose ourselves to despair. Remember: we all have the ability to grow and change. 

Can we recognize this truth in our lives? 

Can we allow ourselves the grace to change--even if we stumble and fall as we work our challenges? 

Can we extend this same compassion to others? 

Can we recognize and honor their ability to grow beyond our fixed image of who they are? 

With God's help, may we continue to undergo a deep conversion of heart as we strive for greater holiness, love, and compassion. 


  1. Great post! A lot of times, change is really hard for me. I think it can be easy to look back on photos and have a sense of nostalgia for "the good ol' days" but life is a continual process of shedding the old and embracing the new. I love what you wrote - rejoicing because it is proof we are not stagnant. So true!

    1. Elisabeth, I'm glad you enjoyed this! Change can be really hard for me, too...but it's so nice to think about how God's plans for us are so much bigger than we can imagine, and that He needs to work some pretty intense changes-large and small-in us as we grow to live out those amazing things that He has called us to.

  2. Okay, your costume is amazing. Hahaha, I love it! And thank God we change. As much as I look back fondly on various memories and pictures and different seasons of life, I am profoundly grateful to have become who I am today. Growing pains can be so hard, it's not always fun. But it really is so amazing looking back and seeing how we change and grow. What a great reminder. May we never stop!