Thursday, November 16, 2023

For When You Think It's Too Late For You


As I slowly make my way through The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, most of John Koenig's made-up words are accompanied by a short definition and etymology. For example:

alazia n. the fear that you're no longer able to change [Greek allazo, to change + dysplasia, abnormal development of tissue. Pronounced "uh-ley-zhuh or "ah-ley-zee-uh."]

But every so often, Koenig includes a short essay to further comment on the observations that led to him creating the word. In the case of alazia, that essay is packed with truth and needs to be pondered.


"When you were born, you could have been anybody. So quick and malleable, your parents could look at your face and see a future president. They tried to mold you as you grew, but they could only work with what they had. And when their tools stopped working, they gradually handed them off to you, asking, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'

     "There's a certain art to becoming who you are. There's no standard kit you can use to assemble yourself, swapping out parts as needed. Instead, it feels more like a kind of stretching, a teasing out at the edges, like a glassblower standing at the furnace.

     "A teenage personality is a delicate medium, its emotions almost too heavy to handle. You had to figure out a way to keep yourself together and tease out the good parts without falling out of balance or stretching yourself too thin. You couldn't stop everything to try to fix your flaws, but you couldn't just ignore them either. Luckily, you were nothing if not flexible, softened by the heat of youth, which kept you warm on a dingy couch or a night in the wilderness. You knew that you weren't just you, you were also the person you would one day become. So even when you failed, you could still be whatever you wanted to be. As long as you kept moving.

     "Inevitably you got hit, and you got hurt. You prided yourself on how well you absorbed the blow, bouncing back as if nothing had happened. But the pain changed you, in little chips and cracks that might take you years to notice. Over time you learned how to position yourself in very specific ways, protecting the most vulnerable parts of your psyche, even as you knew they were still a crucial part of the real you. Gradually you became more and more reluctant to move from that position. Growing a little harder, a little more brittle.

     "And now here you are. Sometimes you find yourself wondering if you can change, even if you wanted to. If you still have enough fire in the belly to surprise yourself, or if you're already set in your ways, too tough and cynical to stretch without shattering. Maybe you spent so long wondering who you were going to be one day, you forgot that that question actually has an answer, and that 'one day' would soon arrive.

     "Maybe it's too late for you to change who you are. Or maybe you're just entering a new phase, undergoing a change so profound that even your understanding of change is becoming unrecognizable. Maybe now is the time to stress-test your own assumptions about yourself, stripping away all the flourishes and ornaments that you don't really need, honing yourself down to the core of who you are. And even if it's true that you're no longer flexible enough to be anybody, you might be getting strong enough to finally be yourself."

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...There's no need to fear. Jesus Christ is here. He has been called the Lord of Second Chances for good reason.

Isaiah 43:19 - "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"

Revelation 21:5 - "He who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new'.”

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