Today, I write to you with abundant gratitude, it’s my Birthday, and I am forty-five and alive! Reflecting on my life, I feel so lucky to have experienced the love of my wife, Amy, my three daughters, and my family and friends. I am deeply humbled by the countless places where God has allowed me to impact other people’s lives — these collective experiences do not fall on deaf ears with me. I have traveled, written words, sang songs, metaphorically climbed the highest of mountains, and sank into the deepest of seas. Oh no, here come the tears as I recall God’s faithfulness, and I have hope. Psalm 77:11 (The Message Translation): “Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.”
Like many of you, I was raised in an era where adults encouraged young people to think about life in a particular way. The prescription was: go to school, graduate (repeat steps 2 & 3 if you go to college), marry, get a job, and so on. Somewhere in the process, you likely experience something that breaks outside the mold of personal or social expectations — and as life ticks by, you find yourself reflecting on the good, bad, and the ways you wish you could have spared yourself from these various experiences.
Within a sacred place of reflection, I compose these words today, aiming to share some of the things I’ve learned in the last 45 years. I’ve compiled a list containing a point for every year, illuminating stuff I wish I could have told myself when I was younger. I know I can’t re-write the unforeseen parts of my life. Still, maybe the lessons I’ve learned will help a reader navigate their life with a few less sticky spots and even encourage me that, “Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy.¹.
If you frequently read my writing, this blog is a bit different from what I usually write, but hopefully, you’ll find something here that reminds you that the scars mean you’ve survived and that God is love, and love won’t leave you!²
- Going to counseling is holy! As you enter into pain, you descend deeper into Christ’s heart, not away from it.
- Love is the most significant gift we receive in this world. (Remember never to take one moment of love for granted.)
- It’s not your fault (I promise you’ll be okay).
- Keep finding things that stretch you.
- Develop healthy eating and exercise habits early on. (i.e., 10,000 steps a day)
- Trust your gut.
- Every human is a work in progress, including yourself.
- Stick with football — pushing yourself out of your comfort zone may be painful for a time, but the benefits are everlasting.
- Avoid complacency.
- Don’t be afraid. Introduce yourself to others.
- “Jesus Christ is comforted when you draw from the riches of his atoning work because his own body is getting healed.” — Dane Ortlund.³.
- Vulnerability is potent; never be ashamed to ask for help.
- Forgive, then forgive again. (rinse and repeat)
- Healthy relationships require healthy maintenance.
- You do not have to be loved or approved of by every person in your life.
- Don’t expect to get back what you give.
- The church is filled with human beings and human failings, which often reflect your own. Surrender to this. No one is perfect!
- You should start a 401K immediately (like yesterday).
- Fear is a wolf. Chase the wolf, and you’ll never be afraid of the things you once feared.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Write more. Your creativity is a gift.
- Enjoy this moment because you’ll never get it back.
- The step between genius and insanity is very short.
- Schedule rest and recreation regularly.
- Try not to be so gullible. Trust, but verify — not everyone (even Christians) have your best interest at heart.
- Let go of the people who aren’t genuinely happy seeing you succeed.
- Eradicate the Roadblocks
- Step away from the busyness and look for the breathtaking ways — God summons you to a song.
- Even though you’re married — never stop dating your spouse (PS — I love dating you, Amy.)
- Be on time.
- Holiness isn’t about us; it’s about the nature of Christ alive in us.
- Be ruthlessly dependable.
- Bring your shadows to the light because the scars you can’t see are worse than those you can. Heal them, and you’ll heal yourself.
- “Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.” ― Elisabeth Elliot.⁴.
- Almost everyone is making it up as they go along; just some look more glamorous while doing it. Please give it a go!
- Take chances on people. And never forget those who took chances on you.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time.
- Wear clothes that fit.
- Take care of your teeth.
- Make new friends. All the time.
- In relationships, use we, not me, and us, not I.
- Heading outside for a walk is a better plan than whatever you intend to do in the next 30 minutes (unless you’re married).
- People will hurt you, surprise you and shock you. Love them in return.
- Embrace the beauty of a Sabbath!
- You are more than a song!
Friends, every moment hasn’t been full of sunshine, but God has been faithful. Genuinely, Lamentations 3:22–24 (The Message Version) sums it up beautifully, “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”
So, here’s to forty-five and alive. I cannot wait to see what God writes next.
PS — I’ll keep you updated.
PSS — I hope Amy and I will record a Hymns album in the near future. I would love to record and release it in 2023.
- Krahenbuhl, The Decay of Truth in Education: Implications and Ideas for Its Restoration as a Value.
- Love Won’t Leave You (Avalon) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soHwkL6-psM.
- Elliot, A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael.