In the gym dressing room, guys routinely chat about the same things: their workout, work, last night’s big game or how crowded the gym is. Maybe that’s why last week’s quick interaction has stuck in my head. A guy commented about his workout (on the list) and how he isn’t getting younger. I jokingly replied, “Tell me about it. My youngest daughter graduated high school this past Friday night. It’s sad to see her grow up.” He looked at me and asked something that stuck with me. ”If you could go back and have the chance to do things differently, would you change things or leave it like it is and enjoy where you are?” What he proposed is certainly nothing new: a do-over. In golf it is called a mulligan – the chance to take a shot you messed up and not count it against you. You drop your ball as if the “mess up” never happened and there’s no consequence.
If I could, would I take that mulligan in my life and do it all over, changing what went wrong to something good? Would you? At first thought, the idea of being able to correct the messed up shots in my own life seems like a definite “yes”. But after thinking about it, I would not. Take the do-over, that is. Use a mulligan on my life. Sure, like so many, there are things I regret – stupid choices, irrational reactions, and wrong paths I have chosen that have taken me places I really didn’t want to go.
But no, I wouldn’t take the do-over. I like where I am at on the course. Peace is a powerful thing. Besides, I’ve seen Back to the Future, and know that to go back and change one thing may mess up all the good things in my life now.
While I wouldn’t go back, there are definite lessons I have learned in my life. With today being my birthday, I find myself staring into the future and thinking about the journey I’ve traveled. There are so many things I know now that I wish I would have known then. If I could write a letter to my younger self, what would I say to that guy?
Here is my top 10 list:
1) Refuse to be defined by your worst moments. Accept forgiveness from God then let yourself off the hook.
2) Avoid the obvious bad things in life. They will always take you farther than you wanted to go, and cost you more than you want to pay.
3) Let your religion start and end by loving Jesus (not behavior or church but Jesus) with all your heart and love others out of that. The rest is just details.
4) Choose a path and walk in it. Don’t doubt yourself – there are plenty of people to do that for you.
5) God will never stop loving you and will never leave you. Regardless of the hell (hard times) all around you. His love is not based on anything you do or don’t do. His love can’t be measured by what you get or what you don’t get. He loves you because He loves you…because He loves you…because He loves you…because He loves you!
6) Don’t be afraid to fail. Abraham Lincoln lost 5 elections before winning. Michael Jordan missed 26 game winning shots and lost over 9000 games. Success never comes without failure along the way. Don’t fear failure!
7) If it encourages others to overcome, to persevere, worry less and trust more, do more of THAT.
8) Take care of yourself – physically, mentally and spiritually. No one will or can do it for you. YOU are in charge of you.
9) The future is just a bunch of today’s strung together. Take advantage of the opportunity in your today. Because wherever you are RIGHT now is the exact place God is going to bless you and use you.
10) Certain parts of your life will not work out the way you think or expect them to. And that’s okay.
Oh yeah, don’t fear your 40’s. It’s not as old as you think. 😉
Another birthday down. As every year passes, I know more about myself and have less figured out about God – but trust Him more. It feels good to get a little older.