So today is my little sister's birthday! She is now 18 years old, which makes me...just...old! My family went out to eat some yummy thai food last night to celebrate. We discussed in the car how Addie has reached another milestone in life-the Big One Eight. We talked about how at 16 you get to drive; at 18 you are legally an adult (good or bad? haha) and as Addie's friend Julie said "You can buy.....INFOMERCIAL PRODUCTS!" I began to think of many more milestones I had in my mind as a little girl. First it was 10-"I'll finally be double digits!" I thought. Then it was 13 because I would finally be a 'teenager' and my parents let me get my ears pierced. Then of course 16, 18, 21, etc. I remember always wanting to be older for some reason or another.
Now I'm almost 23 and I have feelings that go both ways. Sometimes I wish I was younger. I wish I could go back to the day I started college and give myself a stern talking to. I'd tell myself to focus, be diligent, figure out what I want to do with my life, and take advantage of every opportunity. Somedays I wish I was older. I imagine how much more accomplished I'll feel at 25 or how much more interesting my life will be. "I can't wait until I'm making my own money" or "I wish I could just find my prince charming and be married already." I do this so often, and until last night I didn't even realize it!
If you could go back in time and change things, you would not be who you are today. You would not have the wisdom you gained from good or bad experiences that help you make better decisions now. If you simply skipped the present and went straight to some point in your future, how would you survive without all the lessons learned in the years prior? Sometimes I forget to value the hard working times or periods of waiting, but those are what make the finish line so sweet. I'm making the present sound like a piggy bank of experience for the future-which it is-but I've realized something more...
The present is just as good as any time to make things happen. You don't have to wait until you are a certain age or stage in life to make a change, do amazing things, or accomplish your goals. You just have to make the decision to start. My life as far as school and my career path was not going how I wanted at all. Then when Addie was diagnosed with cancer last year, I realized how fragile life is. You don't know for sure if you have a next year, much less a 25 or a married life, etc. Not to be negative! It's true, though! All we are guaranteed is the present. I realized I had to make some changes and the time is now.
My sister has had a rough year. She has experienced a lot of bullying, on top of getting sick-which still blows my mind that people could act that way towards another human being-much less someone who is sick...Addie didn't let the cancer or bullying set her back at all. She missed almost an entire quarter of the school year, yet she still graduated on time and with honors. She's going to college right on schedule. She chose a random roommate, is planning to join all these clubs, and just completely branch out into her new atmosphere. One of her electives is Scuba Diving for crying out loud. She has always grabbed the bull by the horns, but this past year she has really set an example for me. Her zeal for life, no matter how bad things got for her have really impacted me. People have made up the most IGNORANT and hurtful things about her-it hurt my whole family's hearts-yet she has let it roll off her back so easily. She considers these people irrelevant to her life, and she says someday they will have to answer to God for what they said about her. Wow. She's so calm, collected, and laid back. I need to take notes, obviously-I about give myself a panic attack if I hear one person doesn't like me. WELL BOO HOO, right?? :)
So all this being said, no matter what age or stage you are in life, whether things are going great or things seem like they can't get any worse...work with it. These experiences are shaping you, and the best way to get where you want to go is to start now! Spiritual life lacking? Get up and go find an awesome church and get fired back up. Your friends suck? Make new ones. Your grades suck? Work harder. You have cavities? Brush your teeth. You can do anything you want, and always remember there are 6 billion people in this world-don't let a few rotten eggs get you down. There is always a solution to any bad situation-and you can always learn a big fat lesson. We are learning at church about starting new patterns for your life. Do it. Start a new pattern today, this minute, this second. And remember-when you choose not to start a good pattern, you are automatically starting a bad one by putting off doing what you should! GO GO GO!
I leave you with some wise words from God and Dewey Finn (played by Jack Black).
"Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" Hebrews 12:1-3 (The Message)
"I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back"
Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message)
"And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity." I Timothy 4:12 (The Message)
And of course this classic:
"I'm gonna form my own band and we're gonna start a revolution, OK? And you're gonna be a funny little footnote on my epic [butt]." -Dewey Finn