When I was in elementary school, a class I was in had a chance to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to visit several American history sites in Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C. We saw the Constitution and the Liberty Bell and all the monuments and memorials. We took tours. I went into my first real art museum and a thousand other museums besides.
This past week, decades after that initial visit, I visited Washington D.C. and went to a bunch of museums, including several of the Smithsonian museums. When I called my mom to share the experience, she reminded me with amusement I’d actually seen several of them before.
“Yeah,” I said, “and they’re nothing like I remember. The stuff in there was fascinating.”
“That’s because you’re an adult,” she pointed out dryly, “and you actually care now.”
And she’s right. Kid me had no interest in boring documents in the National Archives, while adult me spent an embarrassing amount of time there learning not just about the documents themselves, but how they’re preserved. Kid me was impressed by the dinosaur section of the Museum of Natural History and not much else; adult me was amazed to find that gypsum could be formed to look like flower petals.
This has happened to me in a lot of different ways throughout my life, and it probably has for you, too. That book you shrugged off five years ago looks phenomenal now; that preaching style you once couldn’t stand now rivets you. When you were ten, you didn’t understand why anybody would eat granola; in your thirties, you’re happy to grab a bowl.
We grow and we change, and so do our attitudes, perspectives, and preferences. That’s healthy and good. So it makes sense that what once worked for us might no longer work, or that what didn’t work has suddenly started. Here are some prime examples of that in my Christian life:
- I found traditional worship hymns B-O-R-I-N-G all through my teens and twenties. So dull. Give me contemporary or give me death. Then, in my thirties, both my husband and I felt a yearning to be back in the traditional service, and I am loving my once-boring, once-stuffy old hymns.
- I used to like a particular Christian all-female singing group. They’re still fine, but I have otherwise completely lost interest in them. Alternatively, a Christian singer I always sort of shrugged about has become one of my favorite classic artists.
- I once scorned Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace? because it challenged me too much. Years later, it became and still remains one of my favorite books of all time, and Yancey is one of my favorite Christian authors.
- I used to live and die by the New Testament, eschewing the Old as being somewhat less relevant. Though I still live in the New Testament an awful lot, my love for the Old and its wisdom and relevance has really rekindled in the past several years.
- I have a children’s book on Proverbs at home. I loved it as a child and read it all the time; I dismissed it as an “adult” because, well, it was for kids. In my thirties I’ve picked it up again, since as it turns out those “lessons for kids” are sometimes more than adults can manage to implement.
It’s sometimes worth revisiting areas and preferences in your Christian life as you change and grow. If you’re tired of the worship you’ve always enjoyed, why not try something new: traditional, contemporary, instrumental, or even contemplative silence? If you want a meaty new Christian book, why not try one you dismissed years ago as too challenging or too “not you”? If your Bible study’s stuck in a rut, why not try that portion of the Bible you always avoid because it just doesn’t work for you?
There’s danger when we assume we never change and never will. Our spiritual life and walk evolves in the same way as everything else, and we ought to be mindful to nourish and challenge ourselves as much as we can. The me who abjectly refused brussels sprouts when I was a kid has become an adult who realizes that, cooked properly, they can be amazing. And the you who once couldn’t or wouldn’t do certain things may become an adult who realizes that those certain things are useful to you.
If you’re in a rut or even if you’re just curious, it sometimes pays to revisit certain areas of your faith. Pick up that book you dropped. Do that activity you dismissed. Go back to the thing you thought you already knew, and see how your perspective on it has changed.
Like me, you might be surprised.