The age of 40 is a great time for reflection. Yet so too is 18, 25 or 30. As I look back on my life so far, I can’t help but think about things I wish I had known or realized a bit sooner.
I don’t regret the course of my life. But as I grow and change, I realize the importance and value of wisdom and its impact on my life, and how my wisdom (or lack thereof) impacts those around me.
I believe we have a responsibility to share wisdom, and to continually seek it. As a parent, I have the opportunity to impart wisdom to my children. But as a Christian, my responsibility goes beyond that.
As a Christian, we are to share our faith and our testimony. I have reflected on my testimony (my story of redemption) and thought about the life lessons that have come from it. Here is the advice I would share with a younger me:
Take relationships slowly
It can be tempting to rush into relationships, always ready to cement commitment and a future. Yet we must take time to evaluate our relationships using God’s truth as a measuring stick.
No matter how strongly connected we feel to someone, if the relationship pushes us beyond our values, we must prayerfully step back from the relationship and recalibrate our focus on our relationship with God.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean playing it perfectly safe all the time. It means that we also must be obedient to God’s will for us. I would tell a younger, unmarried and childfree me to take that mission opportunity overseas, to throw fear out the window and to serve with reckless abandon and youthful joy.
I was a great Spanish student in high school. But it was easier to skip languages in college and take tennis. I have often regretted taking the easy way out.
I have regretted even more having so little faith in my abilities. I suspect I was pretty gifted in learning new languages, and I would have so many chances to use those skills now, if I had only had the faith to cultivate them.
When we are young, it can be easy to take our friendships for granted. It seemed like there were always more friends to be made, but I didn’t quite understand the value of the friends I had. I would tell a younger me to never compete with my friends, to be more sensitive to their feelings, and to fight for friendships worth keeping.
Listen to advice from wise counsel
I am not sure that I had a lot of wise counsel. But I am very sure that I was incredibly stubborn. I was arrogantly full of my own “knowledge”, which lacked spiritual maturity.
While I didn’t have to take all the counsel that was offered to me, I would tell a younger me to at least listen and pray over the advice before shaking my head no, and going my own way.
Find a Christian mentor
One cannot overvalue the impact of a Christian mentor. Nor can one value the humility that comes from admitting you need guidance.
Mentorship is incredibly biblical and so exceedingly nurturing to the soul. I would tell a younger me: “There are people who are healthy, kind and decent who would love to be there for you if you just let them. So let them.”
Find your identity in God
Well, it doesn’t get any bigger than this. When we rely on the opinions of others to determine our identity and our value, we will live in constant disappointment and fall short of our God-given potential. I would take one look at the younger me and say: “You are a child of the King. Live in such a way that you never forget it.”
Go “all in” sooner
I found faith later in life, but I have known people who were believers as children who have gone their own way.
I feared that I would lose myself if I followed God. I feared that I would fail to be the “me” that everyone seemed to like so much.
But I was so wrong. I didn’t become a person that I could truly love until I became a full-time follower of Christ.
Live in the moment
I saved this one for last, because whether we are new to our faith, or if we have been Christians for decades, we can struggle to live in the moment. This doesn’t mean a lack of planning or preparedness, rather a life marked by contentment, peacefulness and even joy.
Perhaps my younger self would not have listened to the older, wiser me. But what I know now is worth sharing:
A life in relationship with Christ is not constantly striving towards the next goal, or searching for what’s missing. Instead it is a life that is centered on our relationship with God, which accepts that difficulty will come, and that seeks to glorify God no matter the circumstances.
Dear future me, please forgive me, as I know I still have much to learn. But with God’s Word, my wisdom will increase with my years.
And for that, I am grateful.
~ By Kris Wolfe