I don’t know about you, but for most of my life I felt like I could not see how —or even if– I had grown or changed at all. I always felt like I was just the same old Val, making the same mistakes, dealing with the same issues, seeing life from the same perspective, and going in one forward direction… That is, until I moved away and came back again.
Life is full of growth and changes, this we know. Often times we cannot see the growth and changes in ourselves because it’s all too close and personal.
But, sometimes, life throws us a glimpse of what has changed about us when it takes us back around to where we’ve once been…
So, I find myself back in a place where I once was ~yahta~yahta~yahta~ I was in Texas and now I’m in Florida.
But, I’m not the same girl who once was here. Sure, I have a new title and I’m obviously a few years older with a few more lines and curves on me, but the transformation goes far beyond the surface.
With the time that passed since I was here came experiences and growth that cannot be quantified or summarized or even fully realized. Those kinds of experiences and that kind of growth does far more than just change how you fix your hair or butter your tortilla at Mexican restaurants (that’s actually a thing in Tejas, you understand).
And that’s what keeps hitting me in the face as I reconnect with familiar faces here. They say:
“Hey! It’s so good to see that you’re back!”
“It’ll be just like old times.”
“It’s like nothing has changed… Well, besides Archer of course.”
Yet, all I can think when I hear these statements is:
1. I don’t feel like I’m actually “back,”
2. I’m not sure I want it to be like “old times,” and
3. So much has “changed.”
—–Now, take your Bibles and turn to one of the strangest passages of scripture, especially for those of us who refrain from alcohol.
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
21 “No one sews a patch of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
I can remember reading this passage when I was younger and being so confused by Jesus here. I understood that, once again, the Pharisees got it wrong. I understood Jesus wanted to defend his disciples from the Pharisees’ false judgment, to clarify that fasting was about spending time with God and not legalistic practice — about relationship with Him and not religion for themselves.
But, what I could never wrap my brain around was this whole wineeeeeeee thing.
What was Jesus really trying to say here?
The disciples had moved beyond knowing God from just what was commonly taught about Him. Lessons they may have heard or had been taught previously about the Kingdom of God were continuously being challenged and stretched by the daily-what’s-Jesus-going-to-do-or-say-next-bit.
Although we know the disciples were just ordinary men before following Jesus, there was no way they could return to their former way of life after what they witnessed and experienced living with Jesus. And, although we also know the disciples did not always fully understand or appreciate what they witnessed and experienced, there was no way they could not walk away with a greater, deeper understanding of concepts such as fasting and praying after what they learned from Jesus’ teachings.
I think Jesus was trying to explain why the disciples could not be expected to fast the way the Pharisees thought they should. The disciples would never return to old religion as a way of worship. Rather, when they would one day fast after Jesus was gone, it would be different because they were now different.
New experiences, new knowledge and understanding is like new wine. It cannot be contained in old wineskins, in former ways of thinking and living, without risking rupture and tear. The newfound faith of the disciples was like a new wine that would tear apart anything that had not stretched and grown with their deeper understanding of their faith.
Out in Texas, a very attractive young man taught me the art of pouring new wine in a glass. See, new wine is not something to be dumped without care or intentionality. He showed me how to hold the bottle with my fingers wrapped around the base, then how to pull-in my wrist so that I could make the motion of turning the bottle as I poured.
Wine connoisseurs know all the classy tricks and tips with wine: how wines can be paired with certain foods to bring out flavors, how to smell wine and whirl it around in a glass to judge its aroma and clarity, how to select glassware for your various wines, and the list goes on. It’s all about bringing out the best in that wine, whether its new or aged, and appreciating it to its fullest potential.
While I do not know how long I will find myself living where I am, I do know that I should be pouring myself out as a new person here and not as the old Val. My experiences have taught me lessons that I cannot quite articulate yet. Growth has made me see life with deeper meaning, richer colors, and wider scope. I’m like a new wine, and I cannot expect myself to fit in my old wineskin without bursting or rupturing.
NOW, it would be easy to make this analogy about how I am the new wine and my current surroundings and people, which all seem so similar to what I left two years ago, are the old wineskin. But, what I had not considered until now is that the people who I left here may have changed and grown in their own ways also, and thus they need “new wineskins” offered from me as well…
I believe the art of pouring ourselves out as “new wine” is about highlighting and appreciating deeper, richer, and greater parts of ourselves that form over time and with new experiences. It’s also about offering ourselves up as “new wineskins” to be poured into when we encounter “new wines” in others.
I’m still figuring out all the intricate details of my new wine, who I have become and what that means for those I meet again. In the mean time, I hope to also be figuring out how I can stretch and grow as a new wineskin for those I “re-meet” here.
(So be patient with me, new wines.)