We go for a drive, down the hill, time for some Christmas shopping.

"Have you changed since you came to college?" she asked me.

"Yeah," I said, had to say. "Yeah." It's funny how that answer holds both pride and shame.

"Do you like all the ways you've changed?"

Ha. No. And I'm having to think again about the ways I've changed; it's hard to separate out because they are all tangled together in who I am. The things that have caused me to change are all tangled together too.

It's not as if I received a neat little check list in my mailbox at the beginning of my freshman year that said, "Check here if you'd like to learn how to deal with the messiness of real life; check here if you'd like to not be haunted by decisions you make; check here if you'd like to fit in." None of us do. Sometimes I can look back at a moment and say, "I should have done that differently." Sometimes I can say, "That caused a lot of problems."

But when I think about what caused problems, often I realize that I'd do exactly the same thing all over again. At least I hope I would. And it doesn't really matter, because I don't get a second shot at those things.

You only ever have your own perspective, and it's all tangled up in time and space, stuck in situations with factors of how tired your body is and the worries that press on your mind and so many other things.

They make it ridiculous for me to what-if.

Around the beginning of my tenth grade year, a friend emailed me. He said,

...well he's changing but that's how most teens are. changing just remember to pray read the Bible and trust in Him who gives the truth the way and the life. and you should hopefully change and grow in Him.

They're words that still echo through my head sometimes. I think we're always changing, not just when we're teenagers, although that was as far as we knew at the time.

I've had Relient K's When I Go Down stuck in my head lately too.

When I go down
I go down hard
And I take everything I've learned
And teach myself some disregard
When I go down
It hurts to hit the bottom
And of the things that got me there
I think, if only I had fought them
When I go down
I lift my eyes to You
I won't look very far
Cause You'll be there
With open arms
To lift me up again
To lift me up again

Or, as Derek Webb sang it, We come broken/And we come undone//We come trying hard to love everyone//We come up short/In all that we do//But through it all, we come to You.


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