Today I am 50.
Half a century years old, that’s me. I renewed my International driver’s license yesterday and the clerk just looked at me and said “No way!” I was flattered, but felt like telling her to keep her compliments. I have lived all of my fifty years, and I feel them. Still, I am happy and satisfied in my skin.
I was thinking of how I was when I was younger. I was gorgeous, fearless and thin – but very insecure. I decided to pretend I was meeting this younger version of myself and impart a few bits of wisdom…or encouragement. Today, I encourage all people twice as young as I am with some tidbits of advice you never ever asked for. These are the things I would tell you to prepare you for the years to come:
· Live by the truth.
You are most likely surrounded by a bunch of people who have watched you grow up and are worried about your direction. Listen to their advice, weigh it if you want…but don’t stress about life. It gets easier. For certain, this life is a marathon…one that is infested with people trying to get you to think like they do. Grab a hold of truth in every form and cherish it. Learn to sniff out wounds, hurt and offenses that cloud other people’s advice to you… they speak with poisoned hearts. Remember that in the end you will be accountable for your life. Make sure your decisions are based on love and truth.
· Surround Yourself with People Who Love You.
Want to know something? You’re amazing! I mean, really. You’re unlike anyone else and you are destined for greatness in your own way. Friends who notice only your outward appearance are not worth much. Friends who can talk you down from the ledges…those friends are worth their weight in gold. Also, don’t discount your family….you need them and believe it or not, they need you. Make peace with your past and cherish the people who love you. They will help you manage your life in an unsure world.
The education that was compulsory will never measure against the voluntary action of increasing your knowledge through the written word. Read whatever you can get your hands on; and read a lot. Fiction, science, how-to manuals, spiritual training books, and the best book of all - the Bible. Reading increases your capacity to understand others love your fellow man and hold a conversation with even the most monochromatic person you can meet. Read and you’ll never regret it.
· Never Burn Your Bridges
You will encounter many, many heartbreaks in the years to come. Especially in the area of work - many people will take advantage of your desire to work hard, to be a blessing to others, to be a good person. You will most likely wake up and realize that the place you are in is not healthy and you will want to leave. Leave GRACEFULLY. Remember that today’s prick may be tomorrow’s bridge to the future. Keep all of the incredible comebacks in your head and shake hands as you leave… God will take care of them – and better than you ever could.
· Get in/stay in shape…of some kind.
There are several ways to exercise…choose one and do it for the rest of your life. Whether you walk, run, swim, lift weights, garden or cycle, movement brings a sense of well-being. A sedentary life can bring depression or all of the physical repercussions that are obvious. I’ve been thin and I’ve been heavy – but at all times I have tried to maintain an activity level that would benefit my being.
· Learn Forgiveness
Everyone I love (and learn from) is a forgiving person. We all need it and we all struggle to give it out. BUT the very fruitful people are ones who forgive often and sincerely…without holding back. Very seldom do we deserve the hurts that people give us; it is the ones we decide to forgive that we heal from. The person we free when we forgive others is ourselves – it sounds trite but it’s true.
· Never be afraid to laugh out loud
Laughter annoys those nervous people who haven’t earned how to do it. It blesses everyone else. Enough said.
So, my twenty-year-old friend… you are a miracle. You will grow to be an amazing blessing to all who know you. God is smiling on you and everything is going to be okay.
Life is good, and it gets easier.
Love and Blessings….