When I was 16 I knew everything.
When I was 17 I knew more than any one else, and I proudly wore my heart on my sleeve.
When I was 18 I knew everything about love and dished out as much advice as people could take.
When I was 19 my world started being rocked by things completely out of my control, but that just gave me more knowledge.
When I was 20 I knew more than any teacher, lecturer or tutor I came into contact with. I would do things so much better when I was in charge.
When I was 21 everything started changing around me, but I was still in the right.
When I was 22 to succumbed to the awful fact that there was a lot I didn’t know about, and sometimes people knew better than me.
When I was 23 I realised I had almost everything wrong, and at 24 I had woken up to myself, accepted help and found people who believed in me.
And at 25 my belief system changed again.
At 31 I find myself knowing a little about a lot of things, and being entirely uncertain about a whole lot more.
People I have known for most of my life have made some decisions which surprised me. Other people I know have found ways to reconcile their faith in a real, much more tangible way. People I don’t know, Internet Land people, have offered insight into things I would have found completely bogus fifteen years ago.
I used to be so happy to dish out advice. What I found was that when it comes to matters of the heart, people will do what they damn well want anyway. Choices I would make for them don’t align with choices they’d make for themselves. Hell, sometimes I was giving advice that contradicted my own behaviour or beliefs.
I used to be haughty and get snotty if people in authority didn’t do as I would expect. I would hound people to ‘cater for vegetarians’ at a barbecue or make whinging noises about kids attending what I saw as ‘adult only events’. I expected everything to be done right here, right now.
I couldn’t comprehend people having different theological beliefs if they claimed to be a Christian. I didn’t understand that you could believe in God and also believe in evolution; or believe in God and have a boyfriend who didn’t believe at all. I didn’t get that there are elevemty million different beliefs on things I saw as ‘key concepts’ — be it creation, the Bible’s authority, sexuality and relationships or the afterlife.
Exposure to other people who had different beliefs. Reading and being part of Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Home and Life. Being in toxic Christian environments. Being in Christian fellowship. Mostly though, realising I was completely insufferable and putting up with other people who wouldn’t bend or yield as it was so required.
To everyone who put up with me, I’m sorry.
To everyone else who is in the ‘I know everything’ stage — you don’t realise that’s where you are so you’re already forgiven.