I met you on the afternoon of the day you became an indifferent witness to my fall. Under the fading aura of a bleak December, I found myself a pagan Christian at best; lost in the gray area where you find yourself too old to be a boy, yet much too immature to be a man. It was your friend you were worried about, not me, and with stoic condescension you watched as I carried the friend you loved down a careless highway of sin and lost innocence. Somehow you managed to deride me without ever saying a word. Oh, but I knew.
That friend of yours told me later of the intonated manner in which you ordered your own son to ‘make sure you do not grow up to be like him.’ That stung when I heard it, and I did not consider it justice to be used as an example in that light. What did you know? And why should I justify my behavior to someone like you? You could not understand nor comprehend the pain I was going through at the time, and my manner of coping was, well… my manner of coping. But it bothered me and most of all it stuck with me.
A few short months later I ran into you again—though we still weren’t friends. We never were. Again you watched as I took another one of your friends down roads never meant to be taken, and your silent judgment continued even as you watched us both tempt disaster. The pain. The remorse. None of it was worth it, even though now I return to those memories via a bridge whose waters have ebbed and flowed wistfully over a poignant sea known as many years passed.
A lot has changed since then. I’d like you to know that. Fate being the sometimes charitable mistress she is, maybe by chance you will read this and know that people truly can change, and the judgment you decry today can be rendered irrelevant tomorrow. But by the same token I have to admit you were right—because you were. And though you were quick to judge, at least with your eyes; you can’t honestly say you offered any guidance to the jaded soul who found himself broken and undone back then.
I met a woman. We built a family. But most of all, I found a church. Something happened, and this time it was real to me. In a brutally honest sense I had my own road to Damascus moment, and the scales certainly fell from my eyes not long afterward. The penalties for those sins from long ago have been paid in full, yet I still carry around the remorse for those vile things I both went through and performed. I’ll hold them forever in the hidden places of my heart, and like cruel scars that never fade, they will always haunt me.
The pagan Christian of that wintery day has been replaced with what I hope is an honorable one. I know my faults and I do my best to keep them at bay. I work hard to provide for my own family and I cherish them. I’ve taught my children the right path and thankfully did not have to use someone else as a toxic example of what not to be. I covered those bases with my own misgivings. Meanwhile, I pray for them. With all sincerity I do the utmost to keep them from repeating my own horrid mistakes—my sins.
I don’t know where you are today, because I only vaguely recall your name. Yet I remember your face. And all I want out of this is to say “I’m sorry” while meaning it. Once again, I also want you to know that you were right—and openly admit what I can finally comprehend on my own.
People can change. Sometimes, though time may grow short and the credits begin to roll on this earth we inhabit, the Prodigal son can still arrive safe and sound at his Father’s house.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9