My youngest child discovered a long forgotten coloring book while purging his room. As he flipped through the pages, he critiqued the coloring and scrawls he created six years ago.
“I don’t like that.”
“This is really messy.”
“This isn’t very good.”
He looked up from the book. “Mom, I wasn’t very good.”
My heart ached that he was attaching judgement to something he’d done six years ago. It was something he’d done well for the age and stage he’d been in. That’s not fair, is it? It’s not fair to look back at something from years ago through the lens of today.
It wasn’t fair that he was doing it. And it’s not fair when I do it either.
When I flip through the pages in my own chapters, I’m tempted to apply the “what I know now” filter to the person I was before. I am tempted to wonder, shouldn’t I have known this? or how did I allow that? And truthfully, sometimes the commentary on my own life sounds much like my son.
I don’t like that.
That was really messy.
I wasn’t very good.
But I’ve learned—and this is what I sat down to share with my youngest—is that we must honor the pages we’ve already colored.
When we’re growing with Jesus, that means we can flip through the pages of the past and feel no shame. No condemnation. No harsh inner critic. No commentary on what we “should have known.”
As we grow with Jesus and become more like Him, we understand that He offers the gifts of love and joy and peace and patience for our own hearts, too. We learn to embrace His kindness and gentleness for ourselves. We begin to see those chapters as He sees them. For every page we’ve colored is part of our redemption story, and every crayon stroke is covered by His abundant grace.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).