I found an old diary, one I don’t remember ever writing in, but there were 50 entries over 3 years. Instead of shoving it in a box with the terrible poetry I wrote in year 8 (bonfire anyone?) I put it aside, and sat down with it later and read it cover to cover.
The first thing I noticed was that it began almost exactly 10 years ago, minus 6 days. The second is that I don’t remember being the person who wrote it.
10 years ago, plus 6 days, I moved to Newcastle. I did it without knowing why, my reasons different to what hindsight makes plain. I thought it was about moving forward, leaving old friends behind, having a go at uni to please my mother. I started writing the day I moved, the day the final Harry Potter came out. Yep, I wrote about that too. And then I wrote about how scared I was, pages, months of worrying I’d made the wrong decision, wondering what Newcastle had for me, feeling unknown and trapped.
Trapped. I wrote that over and over. I wanted to escape, but I didn’t know why or where to.
I had forgotten all of this.
Even when I strain my brain, it doesn’t come back, save for a few slides in the reel. There were 18 months between moving and joining AFES. It’s an 18 months I skip over in my this is your life.
This pre-Darwin, pre-MTS, pre-NCS girl wanted to escape. To have my own couch (check) in a far away city (!) and to have the chance to miss my family (yep). For real, I wrote all those things down 3 lives ago, without any notion of what 10 years would bring.
The motivations for escape were fear and selfishness I guess. This was pre falling in love with Newy and finding 5 kinds of family there. That part of the story is so well known, I don’t even remember the first few chapters. The girl who wrote them sounds a little lost, and though I hardly remember her I suppose she probably was.
The final entry, a fitting bookend, was written a few months before the end of uni. I’d just gone to the mid-year conference that would change everything, and I wrote about it. Excited, dangerous pages about wanting to be all in, for God. Feeling free, for the first time in forever, having asked God to do what he wanted with my life, instead of holding so tightly to the reins.
By the end, I wasn’t writing about escape. But I got it, and the rest.
So I think, about this God, who remembers that 22 year old girl. Who made sure she got forced into a mid-year conference she didn’t want to go to, so that she’d be there 2 years later when it would really count. Who cared about the ache that she couldn’t explain, for some kind of far away, and for some kind of more. Who changed her heart, slowly, and gave her freedom, and showed her this path, one tiny cobble at a time.
Who listened last week when she felt sad, and missed home in a way she hadn’t yet. Who prompted a crazy array of people to make plans with her, to show her she is not unknown. Who knew she would unpack the final box today, and find the diary, and set it aside, and read it and be stunned to see again that never once did He forget her, even though she forgot herself.
All the way my Saviour leads me, what have I to ask beside? Can I doubt his tender mercy, Who through life has been my guide?