I was looking back on my life and thinking about things. I am fortunate to have great parents that were always there to guide me through life’s toughest challenges. I remember crying to my father about some conflict I was having; certain it was the end of life as I knew it. He would always tell me the same thing:
“When you are a baby your whole world is your crib. Then you start walking and you realize you have a whole house to go explore. Then you start playing in the backyard and down the street at a friend’s house. Then you go to school and make new friends every year. Eventually, you’ll go off to college and experience even more of the world. I know this seems awful now, but years from now when you have seen more of the world I promise you: this won’t matter.”
To this day I can’t remember any of my “end of life as I know it conflicts”. They really didn’t matter that much.
I think your mid 20’s are an awkward age. You start losing touch with your friends that were always more drama than they were worth. You are either settled into a career or desperately trying to find your place in the world. If you’re not already married, you examine people you are attracted to in a new way, wondering if you are with the right person for your future. You start to worry about things like your credit report, driving record, and how to make your student loan payments. Maybe you’re thinking about having kids and how that will affect your relationship.
It’s a time of reflection and self-awareness. I look back on my relationship with my husband. Next year, we will have spent a third of our lives together. Loving him was the first adult decision I ever made. We met a few days before my 18th birthday. I look back on all the firsts we’ve experienced together. I went to prom with him. We were together the first time we voted, got served in a bar, gambled in Las Vegas. We were together for our high school and college graduations.
It’s funny how the things that matter to you change. I think about all the things that made me fall for my husband: his good looks, arrogance, our chemistry, and the adventures we had; at 18 life was just one big party. Then, I think about the tough times we had. I think about how he took care of me during a crisis and how because of that I could never love someone like I love him. I think about the things that make him a good husbandand how at 18, those things wouldn’t have mattered to me.
At 18 I didn’t think much about my walk with God, at 26 I couldn’t imagine where I’d be without it. Marrying a Christian wasn’t my top priority, now I couldn’t imagine being with someone who wasn’t the spiritual head of our household. I always thought money was the most important factor in choosing a career. Now, I care more about time off, making a difference for others, and being a catalyst of change in my community. I want to leave a legacy, not through fame and fortune, but from actually changing the direction of someone else’s life.
Part of me wishes that I could go back in time and talk to the 17 year old me. To warn her and tell her about all the good things that are to come. Tell her to save herself and miss the heartache. Then I remember the words of Garth Brooks, “I could have missed the pain, but I would have missed the dance.”