In our little writers meeting we were asked to find a picture from our past and write about it. This is what I wrote and I wanted to share it with you for your thoughts.
“THOUGHTS ON AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH”
I am looking at the picture of little Jimmy Lee, which says “School Days 1953-1954.” There is a slight smile, probably a forced one made especially for the camera. The eyes are big and sad looking. I have obviously dressed up in a nice sweater, even though I always hated to wear sweaters. My hair is dark brown and looks black in this black and white photograph, and it is perfectly combed. Not a bad looking kid, I must say, even if his ears are too big.
Now I stop and think about this picture, and ask myself, “What have I done to that little boy?” Dear God, after all of these years, is he even recognizable? Does he still exist somewhere deep inside me? Harmless and innocent, and oh, so vulnerable! Did I hurt him? Did I protect him? Did I abuse him? Did I destroy him? If he is still there inside me, do I consider his feelings?
He wanted so much to do the right thing… did I take the pressure off of him and tell him that he didn’t have to be perfect, and that it was only human to mess up sometimes? Did I tell him that he didn’t always have to “get it right?” Did I let him know that sometimes religious people can do you more harm than good? Did I show him that having lustful thoughts would come his way, and that a certain amount of that was normal and he shouldn’t be plagued by guilt?
Did I let him know that sometimes dad would drink too much, and mom would always be a perfectionist, and that he would also have to forgive them?
Did I ever let him know that when he made an 86 on a test, that the red marks showing that he got 14% wrong were not really as important as the unmarked parts that quietly and unobtrusively revealed that he got 86 % right?
Did I tell him that he didn’t always have to worry about what people thought about him, because they weren’t really thinking about him at all, because they were worried about what people thought of them? Did I ever convince him that he could “lighten up” on himself and enjoy being a kid?
Did I prepare him for the inevitable truth that he would eventually strike out with the bases loaded? Did I tell him that girls were wonderful, but that they would break his heart? Did I tell him that he would be good at a lot of things, but that he wouldn’t be good at everything, and he didn’t have to be?
Is this little boy in the picture really me at all? Am I really him? Have I changed so much? Have I changed for the better…or for the worse? When God looks at me, who is He looking at… me as I am now? Or does He see me as that little boy?
This picture was out of sight and out of mind for so many years. I didn’t even know that I still had it until I dug it up for this little meditation. But I think I am going to keep it in front of me for a while, and think about it some more. One thing I know that I want to say, if I can learn how to say it to him. I want to tell him that I’m sorry if I ever hurt him. I want to tell him that I am his friend.