Going into my second semester of college has been many things at once. An adventure. A turning point. A learning experience. A promising starting point. But namely, it has been an awakening, a goodbye of sorts to the old. As I hailed the new year I also hailed a new perspective on life itself and the many tribulations and joys that have come along since. I must admit to listening a lot to one song to which I can relate. So much more now than in years, even months past. “Innocent” by Taylor Swift holds strong meaning for me. It is a song with regret in every line, nostalgia, anxiety and fear and doubt that I realize comes along so intensely for young people just setting out in the adult world. Not quite grown up, but expected to own up to responsibilities and situations that were once far out of reach and scope.
When I watch home videos I see a little girl who found happiness in playing with dollhouses and plastic horses and writing mysteries about a twelve-year-old “sleuth”. I read those stories and cringe even as I smile. Those old stories are so simple, those past times are so purely described–I had days when I was happy, or sad, or scared, or angry. Now, all of those emotions come together in the course of a single hour, a minute even. The poignancy of these lyrics catches at my heart, because yes, something is lost now that this new epoch has begun.
Wasn’t it easier in your lunchbox days?
Always a bigger bed to crawl into
Wasn’t it beautiful when you believed in everything
And everybody believed in you?
Reading my old stories, I’m reminded of the completely pure, yes naive, idea of love that I had. That is where I’m going with this, this is the cause of my regret. I’ve found myself forced to look at reality in the face, slip out of my former ignorance and face the way that such a beautiful thing as love is marred by this fallen world. There are sick people out there. They use others for their own selfish needs and desires. There are others who let themselves go down the darker, well-travelled road, stumbling in the twisting, turning Valleys and losing themselves as they seek to satisfy their curiosity.
Curiosity? Discernment. Those two words play a huge part in the process of maturing, indeed. Curiosity can lead to mires, to caverns that never end, that only lead deeper into the darkness. And then, suddenly, you find yourself lost and so far away from all that is familiar and right. It can happen by accident. It can simply happen, if you don’t pay attention. And it can hurt so bad, so so bad.
Wasn’t it easier in your firefly-catchin’ days?
When everything out of reach, someone bigger brought down to you
Wasn’t it beautiful runnin’ wild ’til you fell asleep
Before the monsters caught up to you?
I admit, sometimes we’ll fight back tears as we struggle, as we tell ourselves keep moving forward, okay?
This has been on my heart for a while. Why? Because I’m human, and the going has been rough. I do find myself missing the days when I would wake up from a nightmare and I would go downstairs to my parents’ room, and my Mom would hold me until I felt better. All I needed back then was the assurance my parents were there, always there, and it would be okay. I “believed in everyone”–I hear that line of the song and think, Once upon a time, I believed that everything would be okay because someone older and wiser told me it would be. Now, I can’t be so easily consoled. Now, I know too much about what could go wrong and I see my doubts as bigger than Faith–in the wisdom of my parents, and especially the wisdom and omnipotence of God. Why am I writing this, and using this particular song?
Because, this has been on my heart lately. This oppressive sense of worry and fear that haunts me, and now my brain tells me that I know better than God, than those who I respect and trust. That my troubles and doubts are bigger than Christ Himself. But that isn’t true. This weekend, my pastor discussed this point in his sermon. I’d gone running earlier that day, listening to the pulsing tragic lyrics of “Innocent”…and all the vicious emotions welled up again, all the anxieties and deliberate mistrust of what God has promised all of His children. I’ve been pushing Him away, so fiercely and desperately. But really, doubt is the reflection of my very soul, how I balk against God’s wisdom and authority. Why am I losing balance on the tightrope? Why am I losing hold on what’s real and true and noble? Why am I questioning so much? Because I’m questioning the One who’s in control of it all. And when I take my eyes from Him, I will most assuredly slip underwater. It’s time that I fully and completely realize that truth, and therefore rely on Him to save me when I’ve lost my way.