A friend recently joked that he would love to be 21 again, “Man if I could go back and do it all over again!”
At the time I didn’t have much to say to his revelation because the first thought in my mind was, “There is NO WAY I’d go back and do it all over again.”
On my drive home I contemplated being 21 again but knowing all that I know now – Hmmmm…now that’s worth going back and doing all over again. My thoughts took it even further – “What do I know now that I didn’t know then that would make a difference?” I’m sure there would be some rules when I stepped into the time machine, strapped on my safety belt, and jolted back 37 years – YIKES! – like, you can’t invent the internet or the iPhone 10 plus or Microsoft. You can’t take the winning lottery numbers for the biggest jackpot ever. You can’t alter history.
But what could I do? What would I change about my 21 year old self to make a difference?
- Winning isn’t everything. At 21 I believed it was. There were no 2nd place trophies that matter. If I didn’t win, I lost. I refused to be a loser. The reality is, we learn more from the loss than the win. Success/failure are actually one and the same. Find me a successful person who hasn’t failed repeatedly – it is impossible. It is through brokenness that God repairs and heals us. Without the loss, the failure, the pain, the stress, we would never learn empathy, compassion, understanding, devotion, commitment, or wholeness.
- Be Real. At 21 I wanted to be the best at everything I touched. I wanted to know more, do more, see more, live more because in doing so, I could confidently stand before people and win their favor. The reality is being real with people – showing vulnerability – speaking truth – accepting myself and accepting people as they are – is the key to fulfilling the purpose God put on our hearts. Fake never fills anything. Mother Teresa once said, “Love to be real, it must cost – it must hurt – it must empty us of self.”
- Learning is more important than Graduating. At 21 it was all about the steps to graduating – getting my Bachelors – my Masters – who cared about learning? That was a fringe benefit of the all important Diplomas to frame on and hang on the wall which NO ONE sees or cares about. I’d love to take classes I would get no credit for simply to learn something I was curious about. I’d read more; think more; write more; listen more; review more; study more. Education is so important – no doubt about that – but it is a waste of time if learning is not the main objective.
- Inner Self trumps Outer Self. It may seem a cliche and a grandmother’s advice; but couldn’t be more true. You might choose the most beautifully wrap Christmas present under the tree but the contents within might be something NO ONE would want. So many of us avoid the problems of our heart. We try to cover them instead of working to change what is going on in our character. Sweeping it under the rug might make the house looking momentarily tidy but eventually the dust will overtake the house. It is all a matter of time.
- Christianity is about Service. Servanthood. Giving. Mercy. Grace. Christ came to care for people, not to be cared for. Christ came to serve, not to be served. Christ came to give, not to receive. Christ came to lighten loads, carry burdens, and love the unlovable. I’d help people more. I’d cut the grass for my elderly neighbor. I’d volunteer more. I’d let others go first more.
- WORDS ARE WEAPONS. Recently, I read a hurtful Social Media post directed at one person towards another. In actuality, it is a daily occurrence for most people. The noxious words blared as others commented with hearts and retweets – but the acidic, bitter, detrimental Tweet disregarded the person who was being discussed. It was as though he/she wasn’t a human being. While at 21 I wouldn’t have to deal with Social Media for quite some time, I would make an effort to educate as many people as possible to the potentially harmful nature of Social Media.
I don’t think I want to be 21 again and don’t believe I’d take the adventure of going back if given the chance. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy where I am right now. Maybe there is a 21 year old out there who just might come across this devotion and could benefit from those of us way passed the 21 mark. If not, these are words to live by wherever you find yourself – whatever your age.