The Other Side of Twenty-One
Some days I try to write and the words seem inauthentic, like my brain is trying too hard to sound thoughtful and intelligent and all that nonsense and won’t let me just say what I want to say. Today is one of those days, so I thought I’d dispense with the formalities up front and declare that this is not going to be an eloquently-worded, heavily-edited post. These are just a few quick thoughts about growing up and getting older from my first day as a twenty-one-year-old.
First, some age-old wisdom that bears repeating: change doesn’t happen in an instant. Milestones of age are not moments of revelation or upheaval, they pass just the same as the minutes and days before them did. If you want to be a different person in the future, start being different now, or that next milestone is going to be remarkable only in its disappointment.
Second, don’t let the past weigh you down. Let it inform you, certainly. Let it encourage you with the memory of your triumphs and teach you not to repeat your mistakes, but don’t let it define you. Don’t get stuck in the lie that you cannot be more than what you’ve done before, or what others have done to you. You can always grow. You can always change. God has redeemed murderers and thieves, brought unimaginable good out of death and injustice, brought the victim and the perpetrator alike into new life. Your story isn’t over, He’s got great plans for the chapters to come. Accept his invitation get up and keep writing it with Him.
Lastly, expect great things from your future. I’m not talking about visualization and the power of positive thinking, I’m talking about finding something that needs doing, something that gets you fired up, that you feel you were made to do, and going after it. You matter. Your actions can and do affect people’s lives daily, and if you make it a point to do good to those people you can make a tremendous difference. Befriend the lonely, uplift the discouraged, love the undeserving, stand up for the downcast. Give because you can, be kind in the face of hate, be the first to forgive and the last to lose your temper. Treat people the way Jesus treated people, and watch what happens. You’d be surprised at what incredible things arise from the simplest of actions.
In the end, all my thoughts on turning twenty-one come down to this: no matter how old or how young you are, we are all living in the present together, so it seems to me that the only age criterion for making a difference is being alive right now. If you fit that description, you can change the world, so let’s get to it.