A Letter to My 15-Year-Old Self
You’re right to be loving high school so much. You have many great years ahead of you, but these are some of the best. Take advantage of these years. Take the time to do some of those things you want to do but aren’t quite confident enough to go for. Run for high school president when you get to grade 12. Don’t quit hockey at sixteen because you’re too interested in girls, keep playing. You know you’re not NHL material but you also know that your skill and leadership qualities can get you through Junior Hockey, maybe even a U.S. scholarship. Do it. You’ll love it.
You love school more than all of your friends do. Don’t be ashamed to love school just because you come from the east end of Hamilton and school’s not cool with the crowd you hang with. Don’t be afraid to keep going beyond high school. You don’t have to take that apprenticeship. There’s nothing wrong with it, its’ just not for you. Your heart is elsewhere. You know it. Go ahead. Listen to your teachers. You’re an excellent student. You can go to university. You end up going back when you’re twenty-nine anyway. Save yourself years of unhappiness. Do it.
You already have a real thing for Jesus. It’s beautiful right now. You just love who he is, what he stands for. In a few years you’re going to start turning that love into legalism. Don’t do it. It’s not about the rules, it’s about Jesus’ spirit of love, of helping others. Don’t lose sight of that. You know it now. It will take you years to get back to the place you’re at right now. When you start thinking that following Jesus is more about following a set of legalistic rules, though those aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves, they’re not the point. Don’t go down that road. You already know that’s it’s more important follow the spirit of love than the letter of the law. Don’t be distracted from your passion for the person of Jesus.
You’re going to get hurt in life. There will be some heartbreaking things that happen to you. Know this. You will move through them. People around you will love you and support you. Your faith will get you through it. You and your children will have a wonderful life. Don’t be afraid when these bad things happen. It’s part of life. Your life.
One thing that I don’t need to give you any advice on is how to love your father. One day, he will leave this world much sooner than expected. Your love for each other will help you. Knowing that he loved you and felt loved by you will give you strength. Don’t ever be afraid to always love your father as you do now. Show him as often as you can. You’ll be so happy you did.
Don’t be too quick to judge others. You have a habit of doing this in your first few decades of adulthood. Every person has a journey to travel. You never know what people have been through. Not everything is as black and white as you seem to think right now. Some things will always be a mystery, especially when it comes to knowing about God or life in general. One day you’ll learn that absolutes are rare. It would be wise to keep that in mind as you move through life. It will help you.
You will become an extremely confident young man. In your high school years, you’ll have a tendency of losing sight of that. You can do anything you want. You have big dreams. Pursue them. You learn that well in your late twenties. But there are some dreams you were too afraid to go after. You didn’t think you were worthy. You thought you were just some poor uneducated kid from the east end of the Hammer. The world is yours. Pursue your dreams. You’re a dreamer. Dream away.
There will be times you will feel bad about some of the choices you’ve made, or didn’t make. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re a good person. Sometimes people make mistakes, you will too. Don’t let your mistakes define you. Just move on. Learn from them. You will learn to do that well as you move through adulthood, but the sooner you learn it, the better the journey will be.
Be true to who you are. You’re a unique person, not better or worse than others, just different. Just as they are different from you. You have a passion for life, you love to write, you love your family and friends, you love God. You love to dream. Keep pursuing your dreams while keeping your passion at the core of who you are.
You will see that parts of this world are ugly. Violence and injustice will always be around us. The world can be a discouraging place. But the arc of the world is leaning towards good. You know that. Continue to be part of a movement that refuses to accept the ugliness of this world, regardless of how bad it may seem. The good wins. The light wins. Be part of that light.
From Steve, at sixty