In 1973, the Chi-Lites recorded a song called “A Letter to Myself”. Do not ask me what I know about the Chi-Lites? I may fool you. They are a vocal group born in the late 50’s and early 60’s with several top 10 R&B hits throughout their career. You may have heard “Oh Girl” and “Have You Seen Her”, but this song is one of my favorites, also. The Chi-Lites are one of the great groups of that era and genre, often not getting quiet the recognition they deserve. The Chi-Lites are a long time favorite of mine, as their music is timeless. Lead singer, songwriter, and producer Eugene Record wrote this song and I gotta tell ya, the dude must have been in love, heartbroken and lonely.
In 2007, Kimberly Williams-Paisley wrote a book, entitled, “What I Know: Letters to my Younger Self”, Upon hearing of the book, her husband Brad, felt that idea and title would be a great country and western song. He wrote the song within a week and entitled it, “Letter to Me”. The song is much like you would think it would be. It is about young love and break-ups, life experiences (both good and bad), reckless driving, algebra class and homecoming bonfires. Great tune, you should check it. Furthermore, the song “Letter to Myself” won a Grammy in 2009.
Fast-forward to 2014, MercyMe has a great new song out, on their newest album, called “Dear Younger Me”. I encourage you to listen, as it is a great tune. As I listened to this song, I thought about life and the trials that it has brought me. Some of these trials have been self-inflicted, however, they have been trials, nonetheless. Reality is tough to swallow, sometimes. As a matter of fact, there are times when reality will kick you in the throat. Memories flooded my mind as the tune played out. Tears began to flow as all those memories made their way to the front of my brain. So, I asked myself, “Self, what would you say to yourself if you could reread/rewrite your life. What would you say to your younger self?” Hmm, interesting question! There are so many things I would say to me. What would you say to the younger you? Would you say the things you wished someone had said to you as a younger individual or would you just say let the younger you learn on their own? Would you give you valuable advice? Would you give you spiritual advice? Would you talk to you about the birds and bees? What would you say to you about life and the things that go along with it? What would you tell you about love? This is my letter to me:
Dear younger me,
Hey there, You! I hope you find yourself well, as you are about to embark on some very important years. I know you have already made some important decisions in your life. How proud I am of you in choosing the Marine Corps as a foundation for your life. I am sure the Marines will teach you some great things. I think they found one of the few good men in you. I know you have found the love of your life already. Some folks spend a lifetime looking for that “one” person, you found her early. That decision alone will save you some heart break along the path of your life. Embrace her. Now that life is just beginning for you, let me tell you some things that will give you a small edge when you are older. I offer these only as advice, had I heard them when I was your age life may be a little different today.
First, Love, and love with all of your might. Love deeply, compassionately and without any limitations. Love is an action and you use that action on the ones you love, in the way that I described it. If you still don’t get it, go to scripture, 1Cor 13:4-7. That is the perfect example of love. However, love can come with some hurts along the way, but let your love go deeper. 1Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin.” Tim, not only are you to love your family and friends, you are to love the people you don’t know and be sure to love your enemy.
Secondly, Forgive. Life is tough sometimes, people will fail you and people will hurt you. Forgive them. Just as you would want to be forgiven. Some people will not forgive you or they may put stipulations on you, forgive em anyway. It will be so beneficial if you learn this now. Holding in unforgiveness will ravish your very soul. It will eat at you until you are eaten up with anger and hate. Trust me you do not want that. It’ll eat away the very good that is in you. FORGIVE!
Third, Be Brave and take Chances, life is going to offer you many great opportunities, take em. Do not be afraid to take chances. If you fail 7 times, get up and try 7 more. If it is college, a career, or a dream take the chance. The regrets will not be in the failures or successes of your hopes and dreams, but there will be regret if you didn’t try. Try and Try again.
Fourth, be a man, being a man is way more than just providing, a career, or knocking heads around. Providing is good, that’s a start, but be there when the ones you love need you. Do not make excuses, or estrange yourself from the ones you hold dear. They may not be there forever. Be that safe place she can land when she needs a shoulder. If she needs to be held, hold her. Dress up for her and for you, look good, she’ll be proud of you. Always show her how proud you are of her, all the time. Start and end everyday with a prayer. Oh, she’ll dig that. Compliments, they mean a whole lot. Be vulnerable, show them (the ones you love) the real you, the person you are when no one is looking. Look, this next one took me a long time to figure out, cry. Let the tears flow when you need to. There is no shame in it. Ultimately, those tears become tiny barbells, as they will strengthen you. This things are what make a man!
Fifth, is Fear. Fear those things that can hurt you. Drugs, don’t touch em and don’t even look at them. There is no shame in not knowing what they look like, smell like, etc. They will destroy you. You are not bigger than drugs. Fear them! Alcohol, what greater testimony than to be able to tell someone you have never even tried the stuff. You know that alcoholism and addiction run in your family. Don’t touch the stuff. Cigarettes and snuff, just stay away from em, they offer nothing good to you. Fear can be a healthy thing if you use it properly. Fear God! No, do not be afraid of him, but acknowledge him as the Power he is. Read about him. Learn about him and fear him.
Last but not least, I have seen you as a young kid embrace God. Embrace him, love him, and spend time with him. You spend time with him by reading your bible and praying. Do not forsake this. You have been doing these things a long time, do not let these habits go. If you lose your faith you will be lost. Do not turn your back on him, he will never fail you. He will let you run around like a knucklehead searching for whatever it is you want to search for, but ultimately he reaches his arms out, longing for your embrace. That is what he wants from you. He loves you. Embrace him. Go to church too. Do not foresake the gathering of the saints (Hebrews 10:25). They are not God and God isn’t religion, remember that! I left this one last because chances are you will remember the first one and the last one, but the ones in between are going to get blurred, you will learn. I believe in you!
I wished I could tell you that life is going to be with out any bumps in the road, but I can’t. Chances are good that you are going to encounter some things that are going to knock the wind out of you. Be brave young man, keep moving. Chances are good that things are going to come along to try your faith, remember this, Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world! I wished I could assure you that every decision and choice you are going to make are going to be great ones, but I can’t give you that assurance. You are probably going to make some stupid mistakes and choices, its part of growing, GROW! I can assure you this, that those choices you make will eventually make you the man you will become. Life is confusing at times, the only instruction we have is the Bible, read it like your life depends on it. I leave you with one more thing, Laugh. Laughter does the heart good like a medicine. If you walk around with a sour face, people will never take your “good” words serious. Besides, who would want what you got if you look bitter and sound bitter all the time (Its called Joy)? Not me!
PS. Never touch a snake and always wear sunscreen!