Creating space for new

CPX Intern Anthony Segaert on scrolling through old photos, the desire for a fresh start, and why the story of grace is freeing.

They’ve become problematic, the 27,286 photos on my phone.

“CANNOT TAKE PHOTO,” Apple screams whenever I go to dutifully capture the cuteness of my family’s new puppy. There’s no space.

The problem follows me to my laptop, too. I’m reminded that my “iCloud storage is full” — because, of course, of the more-than-quarter-of-a-million photos stored on there — with a persistence only matched by said puppy’s attempts to eat my shoes.

The solution, simple: delete some photos.

The method, harder: as I start to delete some of my oldest photos from way back in Year 8 (featuring a selection of sibling selfies, confused Year 8 boy memes and way too many photos of cool things on TV), I feel something weird in my stomach.

I hate looking at these photos. They haunt me, and not in a Casper the Friendly Ghost kind of way. They’re not just photos, but reminders: reminders of my old friends, old experiences, old attitudes, dreams and desires. In short, they’re reminders of the old me.

Sometimes I want to delete them all and start over. But “the past is never just the past,” writer Brett McCracken says, “even if we wish we could absolve ourselves of it and move on. We are products of the past, inextricably bound up with it.”

Apple doesn’t make it easy to delete thousands of photos at the touch of a button. But wanting to has reminded me how freeing the story of grace is: that our past is at the same time completely known, and completely forgiven. And that creates space for the new.