The group Mercy Me had a song back in 2014 titled “Dear Younger Me.” Reflecting on the distance between our present and the possibilities of our past, the second verse goes like this:
Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
I’m 26 at the time, had graduated from college four years before and then moved to Southern California. I had originally intended on attending graduate school in San Diego. I got a job, found an apartment, changed jobs a couple of times. It was several years later that I realized I had given up on the idea of graduate school and ever pursuing a career in art. A fork in the road I never saw coming.
Thirteen years out of high school I joined the Army. Enlisting at 31 was a challenge I was physically up for, but one I wasn’t really mentally prepared to take on. Nearly everyone I served with was younger than me, including the lieutenant in charge of our platoon. I settled in to my job as a cartographer, relished my time in Germany, but decided that a career in the military was not for me. I got out of the service and decided to stay in the Washington, D.C. area. Another fork in the road, though this time I thought I knew where it would lead. I was hoping for a job at the Smithsonian: that never happened and I settled back into a career in graphic art production.
I’ve lived in Virginia over thirty years now and looking back at some of those early decisions, I’ve often wondered what would have happened differently? Had I stayed in Nevada; had I gone on to graduate school and not moved to California; had I not joined the Army; had I moved back to the west coast and stayed there?
The Old Testament Book of Jeremiah has a verse that many people have committed to memory. “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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11
It seems we’ve gotten so good at looking at out GPS maps on our phones, planning out the way we should go to get to our destinations, always looking forward, that we’ve lost a desire to turn around and look back from where we’ve come. A verse like Jeremiah’s begins to make sense when we take the time to look back and nod, “Oh yes, now I see how that turn in the road led to this decision. How that move opened up the door to this experience, which lead me here today. How even in the small decisions, God was guiding me to Him.”
“Do I go deep and try to change the choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me?” No, but I wish I could tell Younger Me how to get the most out of our life. To enjoy the hills and valleys, sharp turns and mountain views, knowing that God really does have a hope and a future prepared for us. I know it would take some of the anxiety out of life, just knowing that He’s got this, that it’s going to be OK.
“Dear Younger You: Trust Me. It really is going to be OK. I’ve got this.” God.
“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.” Psalm 40:5
Listen to the full music video from Mercy Me here