Dear Twenty Year Old:
As you look in the mirror in the prime of your life, you think you have the world figured out. With perfect hair and flawless skin, the world is your oyster. I’m writing to you as I approach my forties, and the world is still my oyster except this time I face it with slightly graying hair, a deeply lined face and a whole lot more wisdom. Here are some things I wish I had known back then about life:
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if it is a small one, take a chance anyway. You only have one life to live. You’ll have lived saying “at least I tried” instead of asking the question “what if?”
Love is not a fairy tale. Love takes hard work and perseverance. It is not a noun; it’s a verb. How much love I receive from others is often determined by how much I give to them.
Happiness is overrated. Chasing after a constant state of happiness is like running on a hamster wheel — you are forever spinning but never getting anywhere. Happiness is possible but temporal; it relies solely on current circumstances. Joy, however, is already at your fingertips. Be content with you circumstances, whether good or bad, and joy will always follow.
Forgive quickly and often. An unwillingness to forgive is like a disease that slowly destroys you if you don’t treat it right away. Life is too short to be chained to bitterness and resentment. Set yourself (and your offender) free.
Failure is not what you think. Extract this word – fail – from your vocabulary. Success and failure are not defined by the world’s standards but by your obedience to God’s commands. If you can lay your head on the pillow at night knowing that you did your best to honor God and yourself, consider yourself a success. The quicker you learn to use this as your measure of success, the happier you will be.
You’ll never have enough money. Money slips away quickly, like water through a broken glass. No matter how much you have, you’ll always think it’s not enough. Don’t set off on an endless pursuit for more – thank God that He always gives you what you need when you need it.
Enjoy the gift of today. A common saying states, “Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” You’ll never get another day exactly like today, so enjoy it while it lasts. Don’t waste time worrying about tomorrow or regretting the past, otherwise you’ll miss out on the beauty of God’s redemption today.
So, dear twenty year old, know that life can be tough sometimes. But remember these lessons and always hold onto joy. I hope this letter has helped your reprioritize your life in a way that honors you and God. Put Him and His commands at the center of your life today and you’ll be set to live the life you are proud of tomorrow.