This is a letter I wrote to my teenage self. The letter is a series initiated by Emily Freeman to celebrate the release of her new book, Graceful. If you want to read more letters like this one click here.
Dear 13-year-old Jeremy:
I debated whether or not to write you. On one hand it makes so much sense. Your life will be filled with mistakes. Some that prove to be painful. The natural purpose of this letter would be to help you avoid the pain.
These mistakes that seem so hard at the time will be some of the most important things you ever do. I would hate to rob you of the opportunity to grow.
I know you well. You need to learn some things the hard way.
But there is one lesson that I wish you had learned earlier on. Don’t worry, I’ll keep things simple. I remember how short your attention span is.
The one thing I would tell you is that:
Right now is the best time of your life.
Disappointed? I knew you would be. I remember your being told this frequently and how much you hated it.
It was annoying. The words came from the mouths of those who were discontent with their own lives. Those that wished they could be young again.
Sure, there are things about your life I miss. But I wouldn’t trade places with you. Which is exactly my point. No matter your age, don’t lose sight of what you have “right now.”
My advice isn’t an issue of youth. It is an issue of time.
I want you to understand that time is one of the most precious things any of us have. Precious because we can’t control it. We can’t manipulate it. We can’t bottle it.
Enjoy it. Soak it in. Use it well. Love it. Stop wishing for something different.
Instead, make the most out of what you have right now.
I know how slow you can be, so let me help you a bit. These will be some of the most important “right now” moments of your teenage life.
1. Your Dad. Four months after you turn 21 your dad will die. I’m sorry. But you do have right now, so enjoy him. Every moment of every day. Enjoy him even when he isn’t enjoyable. Because you will miss him more than I can ever explain.
Enjoy him while he is well. And then enjoy him when he is sick. One day you both realize that he won’t survive, and you will share some of the best moments of your life.
2. Your failed romantic efforts. Enjoy being rejected by all of those girls who won’t give you a second look right now. It hurts now, but that even that “now” is beneficial. Enjoy it because some day, sooner than you would guess, you will discover the most amazing girl in the world. And every girl that told you “no” helped to make this happen. They are all doing you a huge favor.
And get this, you already know her. Crazy huh?
3. Your mistakes. You worry about being right way too much. It isn’t because you love to learn but because you hate being wrong. Get rid of your ego. Raise your hand even if you aren’t 100% certain of the answer and let that moment just be. Try things you aren’t comfortable doing. In fact, the more uncomfortable you are the better.
Right or wrong, you will learn more by focusing on growing in the moment instead of worrying about the outcome.
4. Your faith. You believe the most important thing about God is what you believe about God. Ridiculous. What is most important is what he believes about you. And he loves you. Unconditionally. Passionately. Enough that he would pay a huge price so that you could be with him.
Nothing is more important to him right now than you. He could not love you more than he does right now. Without you earning it. Without you deserving it.
The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will understand what matters most in life. Every “now” will become an opportunity to worship the God who loves you.
Give your life to him. Everything. You won’t regret it.
P.S. One more random piece of advice. Learn how to design websites. Start one that searches the internet. Call it something weird like “Google.” Just an idea.
What would you tell your teenage self?