the art of growing up

Getting older is a certainty. Growing up is a choice.


I’ve been blessed with a countless number of opportunities to travel to far away places and to have intentional conversations with people of every age.


I am not naive enough to believe that everyone has good intentions, but I do believe that within everyone — some deeper than others — is a loving heart.


Because of this, I rest in the fact that I have 7.5 billion friends, but I have yet to meet most of them.


One of my favorite things to ask of the new friends I meet is to share a piece of advice with me.


This question has rendered a variety of answers from short to long, shallow to deep, guarded to vulnerable, and laughter to tears. The vast majority of the answers regard the way we live our lives.


But why? 


Because, for many, this life is full of regret.

While the illustration looks different depending on the characters involved, the concept remains the same.


Human beings reach the mid-point of their lives—40 or 50 depending on one’s outlook of the future—and many begin to look back with a sense of regret.


In some cases, this past regret leads to rash and oftentimes extreme decisions based on the desire to not repeat past mistakes over the future time a person has left.


A “mid-life crisis” ensues. 

We’ve all seen it. Many of us have been directly affected by it.


You didn’t get that motorcycle you’ve always wanted? You’re still working that job you hate? You never took that trip around the world? And in the most unfortunate scenarios, you don’t love your spouse anymore? Maybe you’re looking for someone younger, or more attractive? Maybe you’re not happy with the family you committed to in the past? 


If you’re thinking these thoughts, luckily for you, society has made it appropriate for you to hit your “mid-life” and reconcile these things so your future self won’t have to live with regret any longer. A sort of “free pass” to disguise selfishness in honor. Sounds good right?


It is all a lie. 


If you’re looking to make decisions based on reconciling regret, ask yourself this question first:

Are you running toward something better or away from something only you see as “worse?”


Are you approaching the next chapter in your life as the curse of growing old or the opportunity of growing up?


One of my favorite songs is Judah and the Lion’s “Suit and Jacket.” It’s always spoken to me, but never more than at this point in my life.


If you haven’t heard it, pull it up now and listen to it. The link is above and the lyrics are below..


—————


“I ain't trading my youth for no suit and jacket

I ain't giving my freedom for your money and status

So don't say I'm getting older

Cause I'll say it when I do


Cause everybody I know, everybody I know

Is growing old, is growing old too quickly

And I don't wanna go

So how am I supposed to slow it down so I can figure out who I am?


And I ain't trading my dreams for no 401k

And I ain't giving this fire for a cold, cold heart

So don't say I'm getting colder

Cause I'll say it when I do


Cause everybody I know, everybody I know

Is growing old, is growing old too quickly

And I don't wanna go

So how am I supposed to slow it down so I can figure out who I am?


Some of us surviving

Some of us just roaming

Some of us just hoping the world will move more slowly

And some of us alive

We're all gonna die one day”


—————

I am 25 years old. 


Depending on who you ask, 25 is either considered young, very young, or to people younger than I, old.

To me, 25 years old is nothing more than simply what I am.


Some would consider many decisions I’ve made recently to be reminiscent of a “quarter-life crisis” but as easily as 25 could represent a quarter of my life, 25 could also be half or all I’m given.


What looks to others as a crisis, is to me the perfect opportunity for a testimony. 


25 isn’t young or old or good or bad. It’s neither positive nor negative. Why?


Because I can’t change 25 and because I don’t know how much time I have left. 


But, I’m okay with it.


What has plagued humanity for thousands of years is not the fact that we can’t change how long we’ve been here, but rather the fear of not knowing how much time we have left.


This fear created the very idea of regret.


Fear is what fuels our desire to avoid, overcome, and reconcile regrets when we decide we’ve passed the halfway mark of our lives. 

Cue the mid-life crisis.


We play a mind trick with ourselves.


Many of us profess that we don’t know if tomorrow is our last day or not, yet we wait until an age threshold such as 40 or 50 to start living like tomorrow could actually be our last.


The behavior of a mid-life crisis counteracts a belief in this statement. 


To exercise your mid-life crisis, you are forfeiting your belief in the unknown. You are betting on your final age being double of your mid-life threshold.


Is your crisis at 40? You think you’ll live until 80.

Is your crisis at 50? You bet on living until 100.


Knowing the average lifespan of an American today is around 78 years old, 40-50 isn’t statistically inaccurate; however, to even have a mid-life crisis means we’re missing the point entirely.


Why wait to cross an age threshold before deciding to live a life you’d be proud of if tomorrow turns out to be your last day?


I’m going to be vulnerable here..


I recently quit my job turning down a dream promotion because I felt God calling me to something else. I don’t know what that something else is yet, but I know He is calling me to it, and that’s all I need to know. 


At the same time, I am also in the middle of a 22-day, 5,000 mile road trip out West with my beautiful girlfriend.


We’re seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes that God created on this Earth, and most of all, Alix and I are spending intentional and quality time together while we can. 


I don’t have a job right now or one to return to, which induces its own amount of anxiety, but overall, my sacrifice for taking this trip is small.


It’s not easy for Alix to do this as she is working full time while on the trip. She wakes up between 5-6 AM each morning to begin her full, remote work day praying she’ll have service on the road. Her dedication is unmatched.

It’s not easy for her, but she saw what I saw when the opportunity presented itself.


It would be much easier to say no and wish we would have taken this time to see what we’ve seen. It is much more difficult to say yes, step into the unknown, and to ask God to open doors that only He can.


We chose the latter.


I don’t know what the rest of this trip will present to us. I do know that over the past 10 days, we’ve overcome some of the greatest challenges we’ve ever faced as individuals and as a couple.


Exhibit A: Getting our van stuck in the middle of nowehere up to its axles in sand. (More to come on this story)

Regardless of the pretty sights or sounds we’ll experience on our trip, overcoming challenges like this together is what our trip is actually about.


And above all else, neither one of us will ever have to live with the regret of a road trip we didn’t take when we were 25.


Rather, we’ll forever get to tell our friends, family, and future kids one day about how taking this trip was risky and didn’t make sense, but we chose to take it anyway. 


I look back at each one of our days thinking about all of the things we did, saw, and experienced that we could have missed out on. This is the opposite of regret.


I call it revelling.


And this is the a challenge I‘m giving to you.


When you say no to an opportunity, you’ll never truly know what you missed out on.


You might have an idea based on pictures you see or the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) that makes your stomach turn, but you can only really regret what you imagine the experience would have been like had you said “yes” to it.


Revelling works the opposite way.


To revel requires a bold “yes” which leads you to experience all of the positive and negative successes and challenges that only living the experience can give you.

And only after you’ve acquired those experiences can you fully grasp the weight of regret you will now never have to live with because you said “yes” when saying “no” was much easier.


You earned the pictures of that mountain sunset which never seemed to end and the vivid memory of the campfire under the Milky Way over a beer with strangers.


You paid for the smile you get when you look back on what you’ve done with the risk you took by saying “yes” to the opportunity in the first place. 


Collecting these smiles makes the time we’re given worth its being placed in our hands.


These smiles are the true measure of a full life. 


People of all ages will read this message.


Regardless of your age, read it as an encouragement to look past the number not in fear of what is or is not to come, but rather in appreciation of all you’ve said “yes” to and an encouragement to say “yes” to more in the future. 


When you look at your past, whether it be 25 years or 100, you will find exactly what you’re looking for.


If you’re looking for regrets, you’ll find them, and you will have more. You can do nothing to change them, and they will consume you.


If you’re looking for fond memories and experiences that you cherish with those you love, you’ll find them just as easily, and you can make more. They will condition and comfort you all the days of your life.


Latch on to what makes each “yes” special to you, and step into the unknown with pride and with confidence. 


Do you really believe tomorrow could be your last day, or do you just say that?

If you do, are you living a life that reflects someone who holds that belief?


If you don’t, there has never been a better time to approach life in a different way than now.


We’re all growing older, but growing old isn’t a curse.


Growing old is an opportunity if you approach it as a journey toward growing up.


If you haven’t already, take the time to figure out who you are by slowing life down a bit. Trade in the suit and jacket, fancy title, and 401k for experiences or memories you used to see as luxuries. Don’t wait until you can afford to take the trip before you book it.


Pull the trigger before you have time to talk yourself out of it.


Trust God to open the doors He has set for you to walk through and approach him with open hands. Only then can He provide the abundance of blessings He has in store for you.


A library of smiles awaits you.


Wake up each morning looking forward to the experiences, friends, and fond memories you haven’t made yet.


Will you choose to grow up, or only to grow old?


The choice of what you do with this life is yours, and I can’t make it for you, but my advice to you is to chase after the “yes’s” and let the “no’s” take care of themselves. 


Don’t live a quarter or a half life. Live a full life starting TODAY.


abundantly,


hw


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