Looking Back: Advice To A 15 Year Old Me

 In one of the most obnoxious-yet-gets-stuck-in-your-head songs in the history of mankind, Cher famously sang/bellowed the line “If I could turn back time…” (see, stuck in your head now…thank me later). 

While I certainly am no fan of Cher and resent her and her silly music for causing that awkward feeling of being a male who’s caught himself humming a Cher tune to himself more often than I’d like to admit, I actually do see some wisdom in her lyrics.

Though the song itself can be likened to the proverbial “fingernails being raked down a chalkboard”, those lyrics, “If I could turn back time”, are well, pretty insightful.

I know what you’re thinking…”Yep. Turning back time, righting some wrongs and wronging some rights. That’s the ticket. Wisdom there.”. Most people I know would love to do just that.

Actually, no. That’s not what I’m referring to.

Unless you’re Marty McFly, that’s not happening. In fact, a consistent dwelling upon turning back the clock reveals the very opposite of wisdom. It’s just not happening.

Heck, even Cher knew that. She bellowed “IF she could” not “When she would” turn back time. In other words, Cher understood that it was just wishful thinking. wasn’t happening.

As hopeful as we may be, what’s been said and done has been said and done…for better or worse…and there is simply no changing the past.

But we can benefit from a nostalgic look at yesteryear.

We can learn from our past.

*Seeing Gods faithfulness in tough times

*Seeing that whole Romans 8:28 thing in a whole new light

*Making sure history (as it pertains to our own utter stupidity) doesn’t repeat itself.

*Interject your own “lesson learned” here (as this list goes on and on)

We can also teach from it.

History, if anything,  is a schoolmaster. It instructs us personally (as we just mentioned) and allows the opportunity for us to look through the lens of time, examine our own paths (and all the potholes along the way) and teach others.

With that truth in mind, I have a few words of advice for the 15-year-old me. Yes, the wise, old sage with a greying beard has something to say (ok, maybe I’m not that wise, old or sage-y but I do have grey in the whiskers…and that should count for something).

“Hey fella, quit shaving your head” – I know Goldberg does it and I know it’s your “style” and all but you’re in you follicle prime. You won’t always be though. In fact, much sooner than you realize, you’ll be watching infomercials and seriously contemplating the Hair Club for Men, Rogaine and even some spray can stuff. You’ll have the phone in hand (then a couple of years later the computer in your lap), ready to order when your frugal nature takes over and you just resign to shaving your head (out of necessity this go round). Really, Go look at your dads noggin. That’s you in no time flat. Cherish that hair, young man. Cherish. That. Hair.

“Since I mentioned your dad…listen to your parents” – Tough to see right now because of that whole “they don’t know anything” thing, I know…but, um, they do. No, they aren’t perfect and may seem to be out of touch from time to time and I get that, but they have your best interest in mind and there will be a lot of “Dang, they were right” moments you’ll one day look back on. You’ll be a dad one day and you’ll see how rewarding-yet-difficult this whole parenting thing really is so cut them some slack and listen.

“That whole 2 legit 2 quit thing gets made fun of just a couple of years after you were saying it (and doing the hand motions).”  So does the Macerena, Line dancing, your Reebok pumps, men wearing earings (oh, thanks for not doing that BTW), Beavis and Butthead, George H.W. Bush and a plethora of other fads that you have in your mind are cool. Sadly, people will still “bust slack“,  like rap and say “You go Girl” in a Shenana voice forever.

“People matter” – and they remember. How you treat, talk to…listen to people (yes, even at 15) will leave a lasting mark upon their lives. Your words carry as much weight as your actions and you’ll build people up (or tear them down) by what you say and do in relation to other people. In fact, when you get a little older, the heaviness of guilt over some pretty harsh words you had toward a young lady that wasn’t in your crowd will weigh on you to the point where you’ll call her up and tearfully apologize for being a jerk. You’ll hear her explain how much that stung and how it deflated any confidence she might have had and sent her to a very dark place. She’ll later forgive you (and you’ll be relieved to find out that she’s doing great now!) but you can’t take back her tears. Treat people, all of them, with respect and dignity. You’ll be glad you did.

“Cherish that Braves World Series Title” – They’ll break your heart year after year. 14 time division champs but only one World Series Championship. They may never win it all again. Always the bridesmaid. Cherish our Title. (Oh, and that kid they called up in April, Larry Wayne Jones, yeah, it’s 2012 and he’s still playing…with your Braves…and he’ll be a 1st ballot Hall of Famer soon. KEEP THOSE ROOKIE CARDS).

“Love is NOT what you think it is” – You’ll have a hard time swallowing this pill but it’s ok….scratch that…it’s better if you’ll stop being “in love” all the time. The constant up and downs keep coming and every one is not THE ONE so quit trying so hard to make that happen. Enjoy life instead. You are way to care free with the word “love” anyway. It’s to powerful to be thrown around flippantly. Oh, and truth is, as a wise, old sage with a greying beard…I’m STILL learning what all love encompasses. At this point, you have no clue.

“Don’t waste your teens”- Sooner than you had thought/imagined/planned, you’ll be married to an amazing lady (no, not her, her or her) and you’ll have three children (after you come back to to your senses, continue reading). You’ll have an amazing life…but with lots of responsibilities that you never realized would be on your shoulders (life gets real after college). It’s awesome but you’re availability and ability to do some pretty awesome things for Christ will be limited by the restraints of those responsibilities. Fact is, as a teenager, your opportunities to make an eternal difference are endless. You have the freedom to go on those mission trip, spend your free time building Godly relationships and you can serve Christ through the local church with virtually unlimted time, opportunity and resources. Your service can make a huge difference in lives…yes, even as a teen. You have influence and opportunity RIGHT NOW. Don’t wait until you’re older. Don’t waste your teens.

“Shortly after you get your first truck at 16, something within you is gonna want to race down Red Hill Road like a banshee Indian on a war path. Don’t do that.”- It doesn’t end well. You arent bullet proof.

“You were saved this year. Now live it” – I remember how you felt that evening you responded to the Gospel. Freedom, life, joy. I remember it well. I also remember how you felt when you told your friend and he laughed. Embarrased, stupid, weak. This is going to be tough for you to get but it’s worth it to live for Christ. I know there’s a ton of pressure for you to cave in and remain “cool”. I also know that your hormones are raging. I know that it’s hard to pursue holiness in a pretty unholy environment but I also know it’s worth it. It really, really is.

“Not everything is life or death” – You’re gonna have some really good times and some really bad ones as well. Remember that very few things are as good or as bad as they seem so try to take it all in stride. Zits are going to happen. She’s gonna break up with you. There will be no State Championship….and it all will be ok.

“One day, you’ll have a phone so small that you can carry around in your pocket and you won’t even have to put in back in the bag and plug into your truck’ – Enjoy the freedom of life without it for as long as possible.

And To close with some parting words of wisdom for my 15-year-old self – Sadly, the 4 Horsemen will break up but take heart, Ric Flair will still be wrestling into your 30’s.  BUY STOCK NOW IN APPLE COMPUTERS. Please quit bull riding, it hurts more now than it did then. On that note, continue to take good care of your body…after college you’re gonna get fat and out of shape and it’s been really tough to straighten all that out. You’re going to have to say goodbye to some people who you really love soon, make the time you have count. Seriously, I say again, cherish your hair. Next deer season, you’re gonna kill a nice 7 point Buck, but after he goes down a 10 pointer is gonna stroll up while you are climbing down the stand…you should be a more patient hunter. While I’m talking patience, your wife is going to be smoking hot. You’re welcome for that. You’ll have kids that are your world (I know you don’t really like kids but trust me, these are awesome). There’s also a show that going to come on called “Duck Dynasty“, don’t miss it.

Oh, and one more thing…hahah….ready?…..You’re going to be a Pastor.

Jesus Loves you,

-The Wise, Old Sage with A Greying Beard

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