Dear Younger Me,
There are many things I wish I could tell you now. For starters: remember who is in control. Remember you are not ever alone. Younger me, remember that others matter more than you and that those things that you think will ruin your life forever…will not. Realize you are not going to be in the NBA and that you will love drinking black coffee. Younger me, understand that your friends will always matter, but that you can make new ones.
Most of all know these things: (1) your parents are smarter than they seem and (2) your Father in heaven cares for you more than you’ll ever know.
Your Parents Are Smarter Than They Seem
It’s amazing that when you’re a fifteen-year-old boy, you think you know so much. You think you have so much experience, strength to make it on your own, and incredible expertise. You think you have control over situations.
That is what my fifteen-year-old self thought. What I now realize is that I had (and have) great parents who are helpful, supportive, generous, kind, caring, and loving. They have pointed me to Jesus my entire life. That’s something I took for granted when I was younger. So, I would tell my younger self: do not take for granted the grace, the Lord gave, by giving you supportive, Christ-following parents. They are an incredible gift.
Yet, they are a gift I didn’t appreciate at the time. Now, as a dad of three children, I appreciate how amazing and smart my parents were–how many sacrifices they had to make, how much time they invested. So, younger self, listen more and talk less; begin practicing humility.
Over time, I have learned that listening is just as active as speaking. Listening makes you aware and creates a posture of loving others more than yourself. It is something God practices with his children every day. Why, then, do we not practice it as much? Listen to your parents. Joyfully.
Your parents have experienced more life than you know…. twice. They are more than twice your age. That means they have twice as much experience, twice your amount of grey hair, and twice your knowledge. They have experienced many things in life that they do not wish upon you. That’s a parents’ job right? To help their children do better than they did, to not have the same hardship as they did, to experience life to the most potential.
Understand that parents, most often, do things to try and help you. As a fifteen-year old, it doesn’t feel like help, it can feel like control. However, I found great value in my ability to stop, process, and try and listen to what my parents said before simply casting their wisdom to the side.
God Loves You
Younger self, God loves you. I know that you heard that a million times growing up. I remember it well. Yet, that truth did not penetrate the depths of my heart like it does now.
God cares for you. God is not against you, he is for you. I used to think the statement “Jesus wants to be your friend” was so cliché. Yet, the old hymn says, “Jesus! What a friend for sinners. Jesus, lover of my soul. Friends may fail me, foes assail me. He, my savior, makes me whole.” These truths have grown to shape my understanding of the God of the universe who, through his words, spoke it into existence; and he loves me.
Understand Your Need
The more I experience life, the more that I understand the love that God has for me. But that does not mean that a fifteen-year-old cannot experience that. So, younger self, allow the Lord to search and know the depth of your heart (Psalm 139:23-24). Begin viewing God as not just some off distant person that saves you from hell, but as a near and close friend–one you come to at all times rather than just in times of trouble. In that, understand that he is the sustainer of your faith and the keeper of your life.
The more I understand my sin, the more I understand my need. The more I understand the grace God has given me, the more I am willing to be gracious with others. And the more I understand the amount of mercy God has given me, the more I am willing to be merciful to others.
Younger self, begin to examine your life. Yes, the decisions you make now affect your life later, but they also affect you now. Imagine the witness you would be to hundreds of your high school friends if you take your Christian life seriously?
Looking back, I see that in high school, I knew of Jesus and I knew a lot of right answers about Jesus. But I didn’t joyfully proclaim his name for his glory. When I proclaimed his name, it was often for my glory. Run, pursue, chase after Jesus. It will be the greatest thing you ever do.
Trust your parents; trust the Lord.