Don't I Know You?

The other day I had an interesting exchange concerning the details of my life with someone I know from back home where I grew up. It's been nearly 17 years since I've been in touch with anyone from my home town (aside from family), which admittedly, was a conscious decision on my part. My choice in doing this had nothing to with any particular person or persons, but rather it was my chance to escape the perceptions people held of me - perceptions that had become a prison of sorts keeping me from exploring who I really was. Now, through the advances in various forms of social media it's possible to find almost anyone you went to school with, or is a long, lost second cousin from Scotland. It's actually pretty cool to catch up with old friends and find out what they've been up to, but for me, there's also a bit of uneasiness in the thought of being exposed to the potential for the same scrutiny I grew up with.

For the most part that hasn't been the case as I've been in touch with more and more people from my past, and it's evident they have gone on to live their own lives. They have good jobs, nice families and reside in interesting parts of the country. I enjoy my exchanges with them, and it's fun to laugh about the the experiences we shared during our younger days.

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case as in the instance I referred to in my opening line. Let me say up though, I don't want to give the impression I'm attacking anyone, but for some, the paradigm by which they lived when you knew them years ago is the same today as it was then. The microscope I was dissected under 17 years ago is the same one I am being judged by today.

Some want to figure out what type of cult-ish church I belong to that perverts the Word of God. They want to know why I have three boys living 1300 miles away from me, or why I have a failed marriage under my belt. I have no problem taking about those circumstances of my life when people ask, as it's just a natural part of the conversation with most people I've been reconnecting with. However, when people go the search function on the Lunchbox and type in "divorce" just to read all my posts on the subject, and then failing to even say "hello" to me in the process, I feel that microscope on my back. It's people like this and the ones who send judging emails that make me feel as if my hardships are giving a malicious sense of joy to others.

In reality, there's nothing I can do about it except maybe shut down my blog or block those people, both of which would be my natural tendency. I could go underground again and hide my life away, exposing myself where it's safe and with those I know won't judge me; but in the end, I think I'd be missing an opportunity.

What I mean is, the other day I was reading in Matthew about Jesus going back home to Nazareth where he preached in the synagogue. If you know the story, you know this wasn't a case of "local boy makes good." In fact, the same account in Luke says those that were listening to him were filled with rage and attempted to kill Christ. That seems extreme, but part of the deal was Jesus spoke to assembly with great confidence over the fact that he fulfilled the prophesies of Isaiah to which his fellow Nazar-eenos - many of whom he worked with or who knew his family - started going, "Wait a second! Isn't this guy the same guy who pounded nails into large planks as a carpenter? And now this knuckle-dragger is saying that he's, he's... he's the Messiah? TO THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY WITH HIM!"

And what did Jesus do? Not much except to tell them that their reaction was to be expected as a prophet isn't welcome in his own town, and thus furthering his popularity evne more. That's when the crowd moved to chuck him over the cliff, but somehow Jesus moved through the crowd and went on to the next town to continue his ministry. If effect he said what he needed to, he ignored his detractors and moved on with his mission.

I guess my point in all this is that some people will never stop looking at me as anything more than who I was when they knew me many years ago as a skinny, goofball. They'll always look for ways to question the choices I've made as well as the consequences I've had to live with as a result. They'll use the fact that I'm exposing myself as fodder for gossip, and they'll drag my family into the mix by questioning them. Naturally, I'll be upset, but trying to convince them of who I really am today or trying to discredit them myself would be a waste. Instead, sometimes all I can really do is ignore them and move on.

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