THEN & NOW
I had the pleasure and privilege to see some long-time friends this last weekend; some whom I haven’t seen and chatted with, face-to-face, since early college.
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s something else, but lately I’ve been thinking about the places my life would’ve/could’ve gone if I knew THEN what I know NOW. I’ve been imagining what it would be like to know everything I know now, including my life as it has played out, and go back into my early 20’s body & brain with my 63-year-old mind AND know my future, as it played out once.
Think of the confidence, wisdom, and knowledge that would come from the years of experience that wasn’t there when I actually WAS in High School.
Imagine the differences, and how much better I’d play out my life, framed in of my knowledge and experiences now:
- My friendship with God would be much improved, and my confidence in HIS love and sacrifice for ME would be stronger…which would affect everything, and every choice…and chisel my identity.
- I would give my parents a break. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I sure would appreciate them more. I’d love my Mom more, I’d build things with Dad. I’d “help”.
- I’d love my friends more, and adjust my life to make them happy. Having no siblings (which I would NOT change, by the way) I counted on my friends too much, without allowing them the ability to count on me. As I’ve aged I have realized that “relationships are EVERYTHING”.
- I would do less “church” stuff and more “school” stuff. I realize now that I allowed my home church to “sequester” me, when Jesus really would’ve had me BE the church myself: to my friends, “salt” and “light”, if you will…as opposed to using the church as a “club” of “haves” and viewing those outside of my church as the “have-nots”. There is a balance. I was younger and needed “discipling”, HOWEVER, Church was used as a “safety net” and not a “charging station” back then. I know, a strange thing even for THIS Pastor (who is known for his strangeness) to say, but I would’ve gone to church less, and gone to football games and dances more. At the same time, I would cultivate my personal doctrine, practice my faith and recognize Jesus when I see Him, personally.
- I would’ve found one adult, who wasn’t a parent, to trust and open up to. I wanted to be honest about what I felt, and who I was, with someone who was old enough to listen and wise enough to know they didn’t need to fix it…just so that SOMEONE would know me, and hear me talk it out.
- I would start lifting weights at age 14, and not stop…wow, I’d look good by this point! But I’d also not shy away from eating the great junk food that crowds into a teenager’s life…bacon always has, and always will be, a part of my life.
- I would learn more instruments and read more books.
- I would still buy my first car. (1972 Plymouth Duster, Army Green…slant six, four-on-the-floor).
- I would’ve used more hair product (if even humanly possible), grown it longer…and worn my puca shells in my Senior Picture, despite my mom’s warning that it “would make my Senior look too dated, years from then”
- I would fall in love more, and allow my heart to break more. I now know that love is everything and heartbreaks heal. (“It is better to have loved and lost….” and all that)
…and then I got to:
- I would make different choices…
Hmmm…would I really? And that’s the point where THIS epiphany happened.
Different choices would mean different consequences, which would lead to different paths, which would lead to a different future, and lead to a different “me”.
The choices I was thinking of were things like:
I wouldn’t have jumped into that parking lot fight, to help a buddy, in college (where I walked away bloody and should’ve gone to the campus doctor, but was afraid to because the fight was about something less than legal and we would’ve ALL been suspended) …or…
…I shouldn’t have hooked up with my friend, Mitch, who led me and some others into a world where we were constantly dodging “the law”…
…I wouldn’t have chosen the first college I attended, but rather spent all my years at the college I graduated from…
…I would’ve chosen to be honest about myself and lived my life for God alone to judge.
HOWEVER…It is precisely through (not BECAUSE) of those choices that I am where I am today…which is a GOOD place.
It was THROUGH my choice of colleges that I not only gained much needed “transition-from-home-to-my-own-life” education, but where I discovered God in other denominations, other people, and other ways, and made lifetime friends.
It was precisely BECAUSE of my first school that I landed an acceptance into the Music Institute from which I graduated.
IN FACT, looking at my entire life, even my poor choices (ones that led me to disaster, failure, or at the least, bumpy roads) brought me…
Here, on the other side of the journey, there is knowledge to be gained, beauty to be appreciated and love to express. The Spirit never abandoned me, always protected me, and always turned my “straw to gold”. There are many, many parts of my life I would not wish on anyone, and decisions I would hope no one else would make…but the place I am NOW is a destination I would wish for everyone. And the Spirit of God has used every person, every moment, and the consequence of every good and bad decision…to get me here and now.
And so, though there are things I wish I knew then, and confidence, knowledge and wisdom I wish I had…the blessings I have received, the life that I have, I would not trade for all the bacon in the mid-west…or all the bourbon in Tennessee.
Again, I say what the Spirit has taught me:
Every moment has its time.
Every person has their place.
Do not brush away either.
In doing so, you may brush away God’s wish for you
to either ENJOY,
or BE the miracle.