By Jerry Gule.
When you are in your 50’s there are times you look back with amazement at some of the things you got up to in your teens and early 20s. You say to yourself, “What was I thinking? I should never have done that or I should have done more of this.” In those moments you realize that time has gone and you cannot undo those decisions and actions. Guilt and regret can settle in your heart.
This is where unmerited grace needs to come in to help you accept that there is actually no use crying over the proverbial spilt milk. Grace says you are forgiven and you have to forgive yourself since there is nothing you can do about the past. You can only do something about the future.
Regrettably, those memories of past decisions cannot be deleted from your inbox, and from time to time they come racing across the screen causing you even more hurt and pain. Sometimes you see the “evidence” or “scars” of your poor and ill-informed decisions and each time they remind you of how inane your thinking once was. The truth of yesterday haunts you today. King David must stand as one of the greatest Biblical examples of someone who could not erase the reminders and consequences of his past.
I do wish at times that there had been a special person who emerged to give me eyes to see the impact my decisions would have on my future and on generations to come.
If I could give advice to my younger self, this is what I’d say:
1. Life is a journey
Do not rush to do everything before you have walked the whole way. Sometimes our youthful exuberance leads us to act on half-baked information and facts. This rashness can have long lasting effects. So always lean on the side of gathering the facts or data to inform your decision making rather than rushing impulsively into action without considering the pros and cons. You have a long life ahead – God willing – so why rush it?
2. Remember your actions and decisions have consequences
The results of your actions can either be good or bad, positive or negative. It is a certainty that actions or decisions have consequences, which in many instances can be deep and long-lasting. So, with this in mind, it stands to reason that one has to always carefully weigh the options. By deciding on one way or another, you may open or close your opportunities for an interesting and successful career long-term.
3. Prepare for each life stage
Preparing to live with a purpose at each stage of life beyond infancy is important. The stages include: infancy, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and senior citizenship. You prepare by listening to those who have gone before you. They may have been born before modern technology, but they know a lot more about life than you do. Of course, these older ‘counsellors’ or ‘mentors” should be people you trust and who have your best interests at heart. It is unwise to reject good advice off-hand just because you do not like it. One needs to take time to reflect and consider any feedback and advice one is being handed.
4. Defer gratification or pleasure seeking
Generally long-lasting things take time to achieve, so the “tyranny of urgency” i.e. a mentality that says “I want it and I want it now”, can lead to untold disasters. The trick is not to be driven by your desires. You cannot just get things your way all the time. Learn to delay your gratification and control your impulses, giving you a necessary pause to think.
5. You are not the final authority
Sometimes youths “fight” with their parents or any authority figure, because they want to be in charge of their lives and to live their way without any controls. Remember you cannot live as if you will never account for the manner in which you conduct yourself. The reality is that you may be called to account many times during your lifetime. There is always someone in charge either directly or indirectly. Ultimately, God, the Creator and Judge of the universe, is in charge and will require some accounting when the curtains of this world are drawn. Live today with that final Day in mind.