Sunday, May 19, 2024

Advice to My 22-Year Old Self

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" 

Love that question! As you know, next month, God willing, I'm turning 72. I cannot believe it. I know I look that old but I don't feel that old. But the Bible says that 70 is old so that's that (Psalm 90:10)!

If I could go back 50 years to give my 22-year old self some advice, what would I say? 

For what it's worth, here are a few miscellaneous thoughts. I offer them to all of you but mostly to the twenty-somethings who might be reading this. This includes most of my students as well as my grandchildren who are entering college. I realize that if you're in your early 20s, growing old is probably the last thing on your mind. But what better time than now to start preparing for it? It will come a lot quicker than you could ever imagine. The following list is not presented in any particular order. They are simply things I've learned through the years.

  1. Life is full of surprises. It's not likely to turn out in any way that you imagined. It will be hard and it will hurt, but it will always be worth living. So stop trying to predict the future. It's something you will figure out as you go. Enjoy the weird craziness of life now. 
  2. Appreciate your friendships. Some will last and others won't, but for now they are your friends. Be there for them.
  3. Even if you can't comprehend it now, disease and suffering will enter your life. So appreciate and be grateful for every day of health God gives you.
  4. Use sunscreen.
  5. Never be afraid to follow a different path than everyone else. 
  6. Don't make yourself small in a crowd. Speak up when you need to. You have as much right to express your opinion as everyone else. 
  7. Drink lots of water. 
  8. You are not the size of your house.
  9. Not every email deserves an answer.
  10. Never worry about the opinions of people you don't respect.
  11. Breathe. REALLY breathe. Inhale for 4 seconds, then exhale for 4 seconds. Do this several times a day.
  12. Avoid consumer debt like the plague.
  13. Save, save, save. Just a little bit, but do it all the time.
  14. Ladies, if a guy ever treats you badly, don't stand for it, not even for a minute. If you need to, literally get up from dinner and walk out. 
  15. Own your own bad choices. 
  16. Choose a career that allows you to have the life you love, not a career that is your life.
  17. Call your grandparents. 
  18. Be patient with yourself. A watched pot never boils.
  19. Go outside every day no matter how you're feeling.
  20. Do what you love in life. Do what makes you forget time because you're so caught up in it.
  21. Stop being such a perfectionist. Looking perfect is great for a while, but what people ultimately want in relationships are humor, kindness, and loyalty.
  22. Hang out with people who make you feel valued.
  23. Be who you are.
  24. Read books (even the ones made out of paper). 
  25. Don't be embarrassed to be on antidepressants. I needed them for 2 years after my wife died.
  26. Don't do anything you're not comfortable with. 
  27. If you're in a situation where you can't be kind, at least practice civility. You are not in control of other people's emotions. If they're annoyed because you can't do something, that's not your fault.
  28. At some time or another you will be betrayed and deeply wounded by someone you loved and who you thought loved you. Let them go. 
  29. Pay your bills.
  30. Always go with your gut.
  31. For everything you want, you will have to give up something else. Most of life is about trade-offs.
  32. Brush and floss like it's a religion. It will save you tons of dentist bills.
  33. Count your blessings. Every. Single. Night. They are many. 
  34. Live alone at least once in your life. It's a powerful thing knowing that you can enjoy your own company.
  35. At times it's okay to put your own needs before other people's. 
  36. Spend time with the Lord every day. 
  37. Pick your battles carefully. You don't always need to be right.
  38. Don't be in a hurry to find a spouse. You'll find the man or woman of your dreams when the time is right and it will be worth every second of waiting. 
  39. Finally, be humble. I'm not talking about acting humble. I'm referring to being humbled by God. It is not until the self-sufficiency of our hearts is shattered that we will begin to understand the deep things of God. The bruising experiences of life are so designed by God that he uses them to shape us, to prepare us, and to move us into places of his service. As you decrease in weakness, he increases in strength. "It is doubtful that God can use any man greatly until he has hurt him deeply" (A. W. Tozer). 

I so wish my younger self could have heard and read this advice and really taken it to heart. In fact, my older self is still relearning most of these lessons.

Have a wonderful day!