I don’t often see my husband cry. Two weeks ago Sunday was the exception.
Nearly 30 college seniors and graduate students filled the platform at our church for a recognition ceremony, and as I glanced at Mike’s face I caught the glisten of tears. Most of these students were very involved in our church family during their years of academic training at nearby Wheaton College, and – for us at least – their graduation arrived far too soon.
The word commencement, of course, connotes a beginning, not an ending. Along with the faculty and staff of the college, our mission was to assist these students to become biblically rooted and theologically formed but to do so in the context of family – a church home that embraced these young people as our own. We knew we would only have them for four years at the most, so why does it hurt so much to see them leave us? It’s just this – those roots we sought to instill wound their way deep into our hearts as well.
A recent feature in a national women’s magazine offered advice by female journalists to their “younger selves” – bits of wisdom they wished they had embraced years ago. We view our own history through a rearview mirror. No wonder we long to pour courage and counsel into those who still have the world as their windshield. It’s like what Erma Bombeck once wrote:
“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality.
It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”
So what’s the best advice I would give my younger self?
- Pitch the perfectionism. Excellence is a worthy goal; perfection an impossible one. Grant yourself the same grace and space to occasionally falter or fail that you’d give another. You don’t have to ace everything.
- Don’t waste a moment on envying others’ good fortune. Comparing yourself or your stuff to what others are or have disrespects what God did when He created you. Someone else’s “Have” is not your “Have Not.”
- You’re never too young (or too old) to wear sunscreen.
- Watch what you watch. What you allow into your eyes will impact your life even more than what you place in your body. Jettison the junk food for the spirit – the indiscriminate wasting of time on video games, reality shows, surfing the net. 30 years from now you will not wish you had watched more TV.
- You have an internal guidance system – don’t leave home without it. Regrets come from the decisions we make impulsively or out of a desire to please others. The difference between serving others and pleasing them is vast. The former focuses on their needs; the latter, our own. Choose to serve, and you won’t need to search for that which you most desire – purpose, meaning, significance. It will find you.
“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”