Do people ever really change?
Once I had a friend named Misty. She spent Christmases with my family, had her sweet daughters baptized with my son, confided in me, laughed with me, cried with me, said she considered me a sister. I loved this girl. I loved her family. I loved her brother, Victor, and saw so much potential in him. They were part of my life.
Then everything changed. Misty did strange and dangerous things, lied, manipulated, and eventually cut me and all her closest friends out of her life. Honestly, it was a relief at that point for the friendship to end because of the crazy amounts of drama that were all tied up in it. But I would have stayed. I thought she would eventually figure it out and realize how precious friendships are.
Now her brother, Victor, is back in prison. I saw in him an extraordinary soul - I genuinely did. Something I’ve rarely seen before or since. But he just couldn’t shake his childhood and drugs and bad decisions, I guess. I don’t know. After he got out of jail the first time and was recovering from being shot, he tried to change his life (or at least it seemed that way). He met with my pastor, came to church with us, got a job. He was on a straight path. I had such high hopes for this kid.
But now he’s in prison.
So do people ever really change?
I like to believe they do. And logically I realize that some people do change and turn their lives around. Even in my own small way, I've overcome some pretty stupid decisions and self destructive behaviors; I've changed. But maybe that's considered maturing and not so much changing, as my stuff was mostly just youthful indiscretions and dumb decision making. Misty and Victor have a lot of crazy shit to overcome and don't have a lot of unconditional support and love in their lives (some of which is by choice), so maybe that's the difference. But I know some people who have overcome some jacked-up childhoods and are outstanding people in spite of it. So what's the difference there?
I don't know.
Maybe some people are just bad or mean or perpetually lost. But like my wise mother pointed out, even if that's the case, most people aren't just born that way. They became that way through abuse, neglect, mental instability, drugs...something turns people that way. I guess I know where my eternal compassion comes from.
I will always wonder why and wish that things were different. But I recognize that I have no control over what other people do. And that I will forever and always be surprised and sometimes disappointed by people. That's just life.
But at the same time, I will forever and always be astonished by the beauty and strength of people. And I'm so blessed to call so many of those people my friends and family. And that's just life, too.
The good and the bad. The disappointments and the astonishments. The hurt and the joy. The hope.
Regardless of what people do or how they may stumble or how they may even hurt me, I guess I will always hold out hope for them. Call it naivety. Call it foolishness. Call it what you will. But through it all, I will never stop praying and believing and hoping.
God holds out hope for us all. Shouldn't I aspire to do the same?