I have been asking myself this question lately, as I look around my life at things I am still struggling with and wishing I had learned some of these lessons earlier. I think it’s because being in seminary at almost 40 is a little like getting into a time machine. There are some of my neighbors that I look at and think, “Wow! I wasn’t that wise that young,” and I wonder how they got that way. I used to think, “who gave them counsel that shaped them in this way?” until I realized quite recently that even listening to wise counsel is a sign of wisdom and maturity. Only the wise seek wisdom, or heed counsel.
That was a shocker, because I know what I said when I was in my early 20’s and someone tried to address a sin issue in my life. I said, “Bite me.” I immediately went on the defensive, most often by engaging in ad hominem argumentation (ie: “I might be lazy, but your kids are rude.”) I justified my sin, I gossiped, I let bitterness take root and flourish instead of cultivating grace. I didn’t read Proverbs because I was far more like folly than wisdom and that just made me mad.
In short: if you knew me in my 20’s I’m sorry for everything I ever said to you and did around you and thought about you.
In answer to my title question, the sad conclusion that I reached is this: If I could go back in time and speak to myself at 24 or 26 or 28, I don’t think I would have even heeded myself. That’s why I’ve learned so many lessons the hard way, and late in life – because the Lord had to give me ears to hear before I could begin to learn. I’m still far too deaf and foolish for an almost 40 year old.
So what about you? If you could talk to yourself ten or fifteen years in your past, what would you say, and do you think you’d listen to yourself?