Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. -1 Corinthians 13:12, NLT
I don’t recognize her anymore. Her short hair swoops across her forehead and her smile looks easy. She appears certain about her place in the world, about what lies ahead.
In the photo taken a year ago, she blends into her family. Their matching black shirts and denim say they are a unit, one. She’s like a puzzle piece that has always fit in a certain place, next to them.
When I look in the mirror now I see a different picture. My short hair was too hard to manage in the South Asian humidity so it has been growing out, now twisted in a little bun at the base of my neck. A headband has become a permanent fixture over what is too unruly. My cheeks are less full, the more natural diet I eat these days and the miles I walk around this massive city erasing some of the pounds I put on in the past few years. Any clothes I brought with me in our move stay relegated to the early morning hours before anyone might visit our house. After that I wear local clothes, a scarf draped across my chest.
I stand alone with sad eyes, a piece without a puzzle. I’m only part of a picture that once existed. I’m not her anymore. I’ve been reborn as someone else in this place.
I don’t recognize her anymore. Her eyes were hard and her mind was closed. She saw the world in white. She didn’t know a world of diversity existed out there. She saw the world in black. There was the truth and everything else, and she was to convince others of the right way.
In the photo taken twenty years ago, she stood opposed to her family (and a lot of other people). Her heart was in the right place but her methods were all wrong. She wanted to love but she didn’t know how.
When I look in the mirror now I see a different picture. My prejudices started to shatter when I met the world, beautiful people who taught me how an unruly, messy life of loving others changes you. My life is more full, the more abundant diet of friendship erasing some of the walls I had built. The constraints of exclusion didn’t fit the expansive love of the God I said I served so I relegated them to the bottom drawer.
I no longer stand alone, against the world. I am part of the bigger puzzle of humanity, searching, changing, messing up, and trying again to love. I’m not her anymore. I’m being resurrected as someone else every day.
I can’t see her clearly. The picture is hazy—her face, her surroundings. All of it is a blur. I don’t know what she looks like yet, but I can tell she looks different than the woman I know now.
When I look into the future I see a different picture. If my past has taught me anything it is that change is certain. Necessary. Hard. Beautiful. I don’t always like the paths God takes me down to lead me to transformation or the wildernesses he draws me into on the way. Those moments pregnant with longing for what is to come are hard to bear. But all births require this gestation, this stretching and writhing, casting off the old.
As I gaze into these pictures, witnesses to all the rebirths I’ve experienced, I know I’m not who I once was. I am not yet who I will be. All I understand today is incomplete. I hold loosely to who I am, to what I know. I don’t love as fully as I want to but I know more now about what love looks like than I once did. I long to know how these pieces fit together to become something complete, to see the full picture. But until then I trust the One who already sees.