Loving a changed person

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”  (W. Somerset Maugham)

I’ve been thinking about how hard it is for us to see people we knew a long time ago, changed. What I mean is, people I knew in high school, or even college, have changed since then. Why wouldn’t they? We’re getting older, and I can safely say that I have changed. I know this in my head, but yet, when I think of people from my past, I only think of them as I knew them. Facebook has brought this about – it allows us to connect with people we haven’t see in years. We look on their profiles and click through their pictures and…judge them. Okay, I do. I look at them, expecting them to look or sound like they did in high school. And the basic core of who they are is probably still there, but other than their looks, I might not recognize some of them on the street. It’s like they are frozen in my mind as the adolescents I knew them to be.

This is so unfair! Even as I think it, I chastise myself for it. Because I know that if I’m doing that to other people, they are sure doing it to me. And I am NOT the person I was at age 16. I mean, of course I’ll always be Kate and my basic personality is the same, but I am not that girl. I am older, (hopefully) wiser, and I look a little different. If the same situations I encountered in high school presented themselves to me now, I would react differently. This is natural.

It makes sense though that some people and places remain unchanged in our minds. Some people I knew long ago will never change to me because I will never interact with them in adulthood. Just like the house on the street in San Antonio, TX, where we lived when I was young will stay the same to me. I don’t want to go back and see it now because I want to leave it preserved in my memory.

However, we cannot do this with all people. Our closest friendships and relationships demand that we love people as they change and allow them to grow out of childhood into maturity. But what an awesome privilege! A neat thing happens when you stay friends with someone for a long time and see them change and grow. I’ve been blessed to see this – I’m still buddies with a special friend who came into my life in seventh grade. We’ve seen each other evolve from our awkward middle school selves into the women we are becoming today. I love that. I hope our friendship continues well into our golden years.

That’s the beautiful thing about family too. We get to see and love each other through every curve in life’s road. We grow together and apart. Learning to love each other  in new ways as we change is hard, but it’s worth every fight, every tear, every blow to our pride. As I get older, I hope I can love the people in my life through every change and also keep pushing them to grow. I hope I can truly see them and walk alongside them as they become the men and women God is creating them to be.

Change is hard. But it is good. And it is indeed a happy chance if we continue to love a changed person.

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