As I was driving to church this morning, I started thinking. And this time it turned out to be beneficial… I think. Anyway, I thought back to my time as a child — specifically when I was about nine or 10 years old. I cracked a smile. My mouth always got me into trouble when I was a kid. It still does. I guess there are parts of my blueprint that really can’t be remodeled! Suddenly my eyebrows lifted. I quietly asked — “How would you talk to your younger self?” What a concept! Obviously we can’t go back in time to meet up with our younger versions; but what if we could do it just once? How would you talk to your younger self? What advice would you give? What words would you string together that just might let that little boy or girl know that his or her life were important and mattered?
As I continued driving, I started talking (out loud). At this point in life, what’s another driver on the road who thinks I’m crazy? Anyway, I said out loud that I would sit my younger self on my lap and I’d give him the biggest, tightest hug that only he and his older self would understand. Next, I’d tell him to listen carefully. I would assure him that when he was older that he would be responsible. I told him that he would be loved by people. I told him that he wouldn’t have a ton of friends but he would certainly know the ones who mattered most. I told him not worry about his teeth — he would have braces at 22 years old. I told him that he would be really funny –in a twisted sort of way. I told him that he would get picked on in school daily but he would overcome it and turn out to be a wonderfully compassionate adult. I told him that he would have a great career and get to brighten up the days of others. I told him that he would hit a couple of rough patches in life — one that would go on a little longer than he wanted — but that he would make it through it. I told him that he would think about others a lot. I also told him that he would have a hard time giving up on anything — he was a fighter or sorts and would work really hard. And I told him that he would generally be ok. He would grow up to be smart and useful. The last thing I told him was he’d eventually have a really amazing relationship with God and to never doubt the man upstairs.
When I got done giving my younger the pep talk of sorts, I wanted to slap my older self across the face. The conversations with my current self are far different from the one I had with younger Mike. I often stew over my failures in life. I’m riddled with guilt for my past mistakes at times. I look at where I go wrong — a lot. I’m self-deprecating to a level like no other. I’m harsh. I speak acrimoniously. I’m condescending. I’m a monster. If were to speak to my friends the way I speak to myself, I would have none. If I were to speak to anyone the way I speak to myself I would be embarrassed and ashamed.
In the course of a 20-minute drive to The Crossing, I had one of life’s little epiphanic moments. I’m sure it was powered by God. It dawned on me to treat myself a little better. Perhaps I should realize my talents, accept my contributions and show my self a little support. Perhaps I should focus on what I do right and the fact that I’m growing and trying to be a better human. Maybe I should cut myself some slack. If I can’t love myself — how can I expect anyone else to do the same? If God can forgive me, surely I can do the same of myself.
Interestingly, the message in church today was about living wisely instead of foolishly. It was about building your spiritual house on solid ground versus the sand. Life will have heartaches, setbacks, twists and turns. But wouldn’t those times be a bit easier to weather if we were all a little less hard on ourselves and accentuated our positives just a bit more? And then I remembered the very last thing I said to my younger self — never doubt the man upstairs. I grew a little wiser today…I think.