I found my old prayer journal yesterday. Over the weekend I did much cleaning and culling and throwing away. While moving things around to fit more and different things into my closet, I found an old, beat-up, red, spiral-bound notebook. I thought, when I picked it up, that it was my high school poetry. That, it seems, must have been purged long ago. These were high school prayers.
What a revelation those prayers were! It isn't the case that anger is a new struggle for me: it turns out that I have been struggling with anger for much longer than I remembered. It may be that I have always been quick to feel offended. That I was crazy about boys, however, was not at all a surprise.
I am relieved to have found compassionate tendencies in that journal. And I am relieved to have learned that I thought much about and struggled greatly with questions about how to be a good friend. This is something I think about a lot these days and I thought that this might be a new concern. It isn't the case that I used to practice friendship with ease and fluency that I have since mysteriously lost. Instead, I found that it was hard for me then to know how much or little to say; when to offer advice and opinions and when to hold back; how much to share with friends and how to ask for help. This makes me feel a lot better now.
I was happy to recognize myself in many parts of that journal. What surprises me a little is that it feels as though I am meeting myself again. That is, I see now and lately that I feel very angry more often than I would like. In high school I was also aware of my anger. But it seems to me is that there were years in between then and now during which I did not think of myself as angry. The same is true about my concerns regarding friendship. I am aware that other people have needs and boundaries and differences that I can't always see and I am aware of my tendency to hold back, assuming that others don't need or want my advice or opinions or perspective. And I was aware, at least to some extent of that back in high school. There seems to be more coincidence between my current self and the self I found in that journal than I expected and there seems (though I may be wrong in this) to be more coincidence of selves than there was a few years ago.
What feels alien to me now, of course, is the intense longing for God. I've wondered if I had manufactured (somehow) that desire back then. I don't think I did. I think it was genuine. But I can't imagine being that passionately identified with anything in any way like that at all.
I am left wondering, then, whether I have been broken or fixed. Or neither. Perhaps just different.