Learning to accept past versions of myself

Who I was then was part of my journey to who I am now

Have you ever looked back at a past version of yourself with shame? Or disgust? Or disappointment? Or sadness?

I know I have.

‘How could I have ever thought that?’

‘What made me think that was ever okay?’

A few years ago I spent a lot of time struggling with who I used to be. I found myself wanting to beat myself up for things I used to believe but that now seemed utterly ludicrous to me.

In short, I was a pretty fundamentalist Christian. I used to read books trying to justify the earth being just thousands of years old (God made it look old to trick scientists, was a particular highlight). I followed along with those people convinced they’d just found Noah’s ark. I found endless ways to justify sections in the Bible that, frankly, can only fairly be described as genocide. Genocide sanctioned by God himself no less, according to the writers.

That list could go on and on.

But it’s not where I’m at now. I’ve moved on. I’ve grown. My beliefs have evolved.

It’s not that I’m now an atheist. Far from it. I feel like my faith is more real and integrated and healthy than ever before.

But that’s part of the problem. I feel like my faith is in a healthy place now and that it was in an unhealthy place then. (Though I’m aware plenty of people in church circles would now consider be backslidden!)

It took a wise friend to help me see that, for better or worse, who I was then was part of my journey to who I am now.

I didn’t need to reject who I was or disown my former self. The truth is, this mentor told me, we should always be looking back and seeing that we’ve grown and become better people.

This was so freeing. It may not have been perfect, but would I be where I am today if it wasn’t for the path I’ve taken?

It has also made me realise that if in ten years time, I’m not looking back on this Sam Radford 2016 Edition without some similar amazement at what I think and believe currently, I’ve probably stopped growing as a person.

And that’s the most important thing. I don’t ever want to stop growing and developing as a person. I want my beliefs and thoughts and ideas and values to never stop evolving. And that means I should always be looking back at who I was with a degree of amazement. But that’s not something to be disappointed about; it’s something to celebrate.

Photo: Kirk Morales

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