What I Wish I Could Tell the 22-Year-Old Me

I just celebrated my 39th birthday. Not sure “celebrated” captures how I feel about it. I am in my last year of my thirties and retrospection seems to be a natural response to getting older.

I was thinking about the last seventeen years. Seventeen years of marriage. Sixteen years of being a parent. So many mistakes. So many repeated mistakes. So much pain I could have avoided. I wish the 39-year old me could have a conversation with the 22-year old me. The odds are, the 22-year old me wouldn’t listen, but there are a few things I’d love to share:

1. Who you are isn’t what you do.

Everyday you will be tempted to find your identity in your profession. You will be tempted to worship your calling more than you worship Christ. Don’t find your value in what you do, you will always feel empty. Nothing will ever be enough. Insecurity will haunt you. Achievement will rule you. Who you are isn’t in what you do. Your identity is found in who you are in Christ. Nothing more; nothing less.

2. Conflict isn’t something you should avoid.

Just because you don’t like conflict doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Intimacy is a bi-product of well navigated conflict. Embracing conflict will cost you. Leaning into conflict will be uncomfortable. Keeping the peace isn’t the same as living in peace. The absence of conflict in your marriage doesn’t always equal the presence of intimacy.

3. Your wife isn’t your enemy.

There will come a day when you feel like Trisha isn’t for you. You will be tempted to believe that she is the enemy. Don’t believe that lie. You have one Enemy. He seeks to kill your marriage; destroy your dreams and come against you and your wife. Blaming her will be easy. Resenting her will come natural. She isn’t your enemy. Step into the spiritual battle and fight for your marriage, not against your wife.

4. Hiding your porn addiction will never help you overcome it.

You think you are helping yourself and your marriage by hiding your porn addiction. You’ve convinced yourself that you can keep it a secret and just stop anytime you want to stop. But you’ll watch it again tomorrow…and the next day. Hiding sin will never provide you with the power to overcome it. The freedom you long for is found in confession. Freedom will cost you something up front, but not as much as bondage will cost you over time.

5. Accountability isn’t the same as transparency.

You can have accountability partners and never be accountable. In fact, you will use your accountability partners to show how spiritual you are. Accountability is only as valuable as the transparency you offer in the context of accountability. Unless you are transparent, accountability will fail you. Find one person that you can be transparent with.

6. Your relationship with God isn’t based on your performance.

You think God’s opinion of you; his belief in you; his approval of you is based on your performance…but it’s not. He loves you and believes in you no matter how good or bad you perform. This misperception of God will drive you to be stressed out, anxious and insecure. You don’t have to live that way. Your relationship with God is based on Jesus’ performance…not yours.

What is one thing you’d like to share with the younger you?

15 Responses to What I Wish I Could Tell the 22-Year-Old Me

  1. This is sooo good! It makes me think about what I would say to the 10 year younger version of myself. Thanks also for your transparent honesty – freedom, brother, freedom!

  2. StevenLowry

    Regarding point 6, it helps me to remember that I don’t have to leave a legacy for myself because Jesus already left HIS. This removes a lot of the pressure to “perform” for God. This is a struggle because we feel we have to prove our worth and abilities to a God that requires neither. On top of that, He loves us outside of and in spite of it. Our REAL legacy should be spreading and living in His. Everything else is just noise and distraction.

  3. I’m only 25, but I look back at myself 3 years ago, and I wish I could say a lot of these things to myself. In all these things, I can almost always trace it back to how I just lost sight of what the Gospel is, the lack of affection stirred up in my heart for God as a result of it, and clinging to other things to give me meaning.

  4. I’ll be 35 in a couple of days & have only been married for 5 years. Good advice. Not gonna lie, though, it’s hard to fight for my marriage sometimes. My husband is bi-polar & it is like we are on 2 different planets most of the time. BUT, I have hope that God is going to make something beautiful out of the mess… just gotta keep fighting for it.

  5. Brandee

    I wrote a post at my 10 year anniversary saying some very similar things. Praise the Lord that He sees our past, present and future and works it all out for His ultimate plans.

  6. I’d tell the me of a few years ago- Take more classes dealing with statistics at university. Looks boring but might be more useful that you expect.
    – The sooner you throw out any notion that God might work with your time frames the better.
    – Just because unhealthy food is being served at university social events doesn’t mean you should eat it.
    – Put as much time and effort into developing good friendships at university as you can without neglecting your studies. The opportunities you have for meeting people and forming friendships at university are amazing.

  7. Such excellent advice! I will be turning 40 in just a couple weeks. I tend to refer to my 20s as my “stupid years”. Lately, I have met many, many wise twenty-somethings…I, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them! So thankful for God’s grace and patience with me then AND His grace and patience with me now.

  8. Lisa T

    Excellent post. I’ve been thinking about this same topic recently. If I could go back – I think I would tell myself to keep my eye, my focus on the important things and fight for them. My marriage – my kids – my relationship with Jesus.

    Sometimes we get second chances. (Praise God) But maybe we miss a blessing in those relationships we could have had if we would have put more into it the first time around.