If I only knew…

Sometimes I look back at my 16-year-old self and wish I could have given her some advice. I was blessed to have God-fearing influential people in my life that were there to give me wise counsel, but the problem was that I wasn’t always aware that their advice was needed. Hindsight is 20/20, so here are five things that I wish I could tell a “younger me”…other than “buy stock in apple.”

  1. You don’t know everything. During my teenage years, I’m pretty sure I thought I knew everything. My attitude and actions communicated to the rest of the world that I had superior knowledge of all things– especially when speaking to those older than me. While I may have known more about the celebrities in People magazine, I was lacking one thing: wisdom. As the years pass by, I realize more and more how much I DON’T know.

Lacking knowledge and wisdom when you are young is okay – God made you that way, but don’t be IGNORANT to your lack of knowledge and wisdom. Realize that adults know more than you. A lot more. Understanding that you don’t have all the answers is an important first step.

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I am only 24 and am learning new things every day. I don’t know everything, and will NEVER know everything. I have realized throughout the years the blessing that comes from seeking wisdom from those older than me. When you’re young, it’s sometimes hard to seek out advice from your parents, but as I get older I want to know more and more – to think like them, to be like them. As with anything, experience brings knowledge. It’s a safe bet to expect those with a few years on us to know more and have more wisdom. Proverbs talks about “wise counsel” a lot. Take a look:

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)

“You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish gain understanding.”  Proverbs 8:5 (NIV)

  1. “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin

When you’re young, it’s so easy to put off things in life because you have a lot of life left. From my experience, life only gets busier. I thought I was busy in high school; then I moved to college and felt like my schedule was spiraling out of control. It wasn’t until stepping out into the “real world” that I learned what “busy” truly meant. Working 8-5, doing side jobs in the evening, finding time for husband, church events throughout the week and all day Sunday, finding time to visit family and friends, doing laundry, cooking nightly dinners, cleaning the house…the list goes on and on…and I don’t even have kids yet! Do what needs to be done now. You may not have time later. Go to college while you don’t have as many responsibilities, work internships when you don’t have a family to provide for, travel while you are in good health, and help others before you are the one who needs to be helped.

“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”  Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)

“Now listen, you who say, ’Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13-14 (NIV)

  1. Decisions matter. I made good decisions when I was younger (for the most part), but I didn’t understand the weight of those decisions when I was making them. Decisions, good or bad, affect the rest of your life, even when you are 16-years-old. Where will I go to college? What career will I pursue? Who will I marry? How much could one night of drinking really affect me in the long run? These things will literally affect the rest of your life and you will make most of these decisions at a relatively young age. Don’t think you know everything and make foolish decisions – seek advice and get some help.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 (NIV)

  1. You’re not as important as you think you are. When I was a teen, my dad was quick to remind me that the world does not revolve around me. Those words irritated me beyond belief, but I now understand why those words were so important for me to hear. I was SO SELFISH. I just didn’t realize it. This is a common characteristic among young people. I wish I could have told myself, “Alyssa, get over yourself. Others matter more than you.” Help others – it’s important. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

  1. Life won’t go the way you think. I had my life perfectly mapped out. Go to college, do some internships, get a good job, work my way up the ladder of success, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. While pieces of MY plan have worked out, it didn’t happen at all like I thought (see my first blog post). Life is full of change, but this is all a part of God’s journey! Embrace it and use those times of uncertainty to grow closer to the Lord. He will provide; He always does. Let His plan run its course.

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“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

Thoughts

Artwork Credit: Amanda Weaver Design

While I certainly don’t have everything figured out at the age of 24, the Lord is continuing to mold and shape me. My goal is to grow in knowledge and wisdom each year that ticks off my earthly clock. Ultimately, I desire to live a life that reflects Christ more each day. I wonder what this list will look like when I’m 50?! At least now I REALIZE I don’t know everything. :)

So what about you? What advice do you wish you could give a “younger you”?