Have you ever heard the expression, “If I could only do things over?” I’m sure most people have not only heard the phrase but have voiced it as well.
If the Lord allows me to celebrate my birthday in two more weeks, I will turn 53. I have been most blessed with by the years afforded to me by my Savior. However, I’ve learned numerous lessons with each season along the way.
I am currently writing a book on what I would say if I were to meet my 24-year old self today. It has been both a joy to write and yet at times, most difficult as well. Today, I want to share a few excerpts from the book.
“For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
God had a plan for my life before I entered this world. He knew the calling He would give, the spiritual gifts He would bestow, and the paths I would take.
God had a plan for my life before He ever created me.Tweet
I was brought up in a small town in Northwest Alabama. I made many memories during my growing up years. Ones I still look back on today and smile over; others I try hard to forget.
By the time I had reached my twenties, a new path was set for me to travel. From the loss of a husband to a route appointed as a single mother, I was on my way to a future that would harvest joyful periods, sorrowful times, and countless lessons learned. Some of those periods I wish to share today as if I were speaking to my 24-year-old self.
When Foolishness Meets Wisdom: If I were to meet my 24-year-old self today, I would say the following:Tweet
Lesson One: Find another hair-do.
Oh my, check out the picture below. What was I thinking? (80’s hair) I used to wonder why people made fun of my hair so much. Well, today, I understand. Yet on another note, look at my babies. Still warms my heart. They fought as kids, yet today are inseparable.
Lesson Two: One of your greatest mission fields is your kids.Tweet
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Proverbs 27:3
To my 24-year old self I would say: Cultivate your mission field. Pray for your kids always. Entrust to them the word of God and teach them how to apply His word to their lives. Let church attendance be a must, not an option they can choose. Live what you preach. Spend time with them daily.
I absolutely loved being a mother. However, there were areas related to child-rearing that I should have cultivated more. I was always busy engaging in event planning. I started the July Fest in my hometown, brought several youth and women’s retreats to the county I lived in, and engaged in countless ministry activities when my kids were young. There’s nothing wrong with using your gifts to engage in ministry work and activities, but at times, I had my hands in too many things instead of focusing on motherhood. If we are too busy with being busy outside the home, something—or someone—will suffer. We only have our kids for a short time. Invest, invest, invest. They are one of the greatest mission fields we have today.
Lesson Three: Surround yourself with godly influences.Tweet
Of all the areas I can look back on, this by far was one of the most foolish lived.
He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)
To my 24-year old self I would say: Surround yourself with godly people who will pray for you, have your back, and give you godly sound counsel. Trust God to choose and build those inner-circle friendships. For what you may deem as a friend, God may see as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Listen to Him and obey what He says! Love everyone, yet be wise!
Lesson Five: Let God lead you where He wants you to be.Tweet
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. (6)
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (7) Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
Today I find myself living in a place I never dreamed possible. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I am so thankful for what God has done in my life and where He has brought me to live, study, and attend church.
To my 24-year old self I would say: Let God call the shots for your life. He has the blueprint already made out. When He calls you to get out of your comfort zone, go. When He calls you to get out of a boat you thought you would be in forever, step out. Following His plan will always be best. Lastly, be cautious from who you seek counsel in regard to following God’s calling. Always be obedient to His Word instead of people’s opinion.
Lesson Six: The grass IS NOT greener on the other side.Tweet
Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many. 11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. 13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. 14 Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. (Proverbs 4:10-15)
Out of nowhere appeared a stunning island. It was covered with gorgeous flowers and beautiful green grass. Its ray of beauty was enticing for all who passed by. However, in the entrance of the island was a posted sign that said, “Keep Off.” For in the middle of the lovely landmass was a huge quicksand bed. The outer-scene was luring to many people. Yet it was only a cover to hide a destructive hazard.
To my 24-year old self I would say: You will find yourself coming to many crossroads in life. One will be marked intentionally as “the right way to go.” It will be a hard road at times, but worth your travel in the end. The other road will call you, tempt you, and even beckoned for your travel. At first, the grass a long its path will appear greener and the travel easy. Yet eventually, this particular road will lead only to a dead end with a quicksand bed awaiting you.
Temptation will always knock, yet please let God answer. Give your life to Jesus EARLY and let Him have you entirely, completely, and without reservation. Dive into the word of God daily. Let His Word direct your life. And one final note: The grass is never greener on the other side.
Lesson Six: Whatever God promises you, He will bring to pass.Tweet
“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
To my 24-year old self I would say: When God gives you a promise, He will always bring it to pass. Never doubt His power to bring about what He has promised.
Final Lesson for today: Guard against allowing yourself to be easily influenced.Tweet
Today we are surrounded by opinions, opinions, and more opinions. We are bombarded by stories about others which derives a question we all must answer. Do we believe it just because so and so said it? Or do we take such matters before God?
On one particular holiday, a lady was attending a family gathering. A particular guest had been invited to help with one of the family traditions. He was a pastor. As the evening went by, the minister approached a young lady, who was a member of the family, and stated, “I have heard a lot about you.” She retorted, “Well, I hope it was good.” The pastor immediately let out a sarcastic laugh and walked away.
The young lady instantly knew he had allowed himself to be influenced by a person who had recently caused havoc within the family. Not only had he permitted himself to be poorly influenced, he allowed his behavior to be altered toward a young lady whom he had never met.
To my 24-year old self I would say: There is ALWAYS two sides of a story. Guard against jumping on a bandwagon, to come against someone just because everyone else in the community is doing it. Guard against instantly believing something you hear before bringing the matter before the Lord. Let God influence you over a matter instead of man.
I look so forward to sharing additional lessons as time goes by. I certainly have not always done it right, but maybe someone can learn from what God has taught me through such times. Entrusting to others what God has entrusted to me is my life long mission. I leave you with this compelling question. If you were to meet your 24-year-old self today, what would you say to her? Leave your comments below-we would love to hear from you.