A Honest Conversation With My 16 Year Old Self
Me: Hey man, how’s it going?
Me at 16: Um, good man. How are you?
Me: Tired. What are you up to?
Me at 16: Nothin’ really. Uh, who are you?
Me: I’m you.
Me at 16: What?
Me: I’m you. In the future.
Me at 16: Uhhh ok.
Me: Kinda weird, right?
Me at 16: Just a bit. How far in the future?
Me: 16 years from where you are.
Me at 16: Oh wow. So you’re what, 34?
Me: Dude, come on. I know you’ve never been good at math, but 16 plus 16 is 32.
Me at 16: Oh yeah. So what happened to your, er, my hair?
Me: Long story. Well, not really. Blame it on mom’s dad’s bald genes.
Me at 16: So what’s my future like?
Me: Well, I guess to sum it up, pretty great.
Me at 16: Oh yeah? How so?
Me: Well, I’ve got a great wife and two great kids. A nice house and full-time job.
Me at 16: Sounds kinda typical, no?
Me: You think everyone is fortunate to have blessings like that?
Me at 16: No, I guess not. I think that sounds like how I’ve always seen life play out in my mind. Wife, kids, job, yada yada yada.
Me: Don’t take it for granted when you get here. It’s too easy to let the routine of the day to day life pass you by.
Me at 16: Sounds like you’ve got some regrets?
Me: Just a few.
Me at 16: Hmm. Well tell me this, is your wife hot?
Me: Of course. But she’s so much more.
Me at 16: What does she look like? Is she from Chesnee? And most importantly, is she hot?
Me: Dude, I just said yes, she’s hot. No, I met her in college.
Me at 16: Oh…cool.
Me: And let me talk to you about that “is she hot” thing. I know you’re 16, and like all the other teenage idiots all you can think about is the physical appearance of the opposite sex.
Me at 16: Well that’s not all I think about when it comes to girls.
Me: Oh yeah? What other attributes of a future wife are you thinking about right now?
Me at 16: ….
Me: Exactly. Let me explain three things to you. First, these girls you’re seeing every day at school aren’t sexual objects for you to fantasize about.
Me at 16: I get that. But do you see how they dress? Kinda hard to concentrate on algebra 2 with the short skirts around, know what I’m sayin’?
Me: Yep. And it won’t change much when you leave high school. But let me get back to what I was trying to say. Girls dressing a certain way does not, in any way, give you license to lust after them.
Me at 16: Yeah…I know.
Me: It’s a pretty lame cop out I’ve heard a lot of guys say, and even said myself at times. It’s not a female’s job to train our minds and hearts to not glorify their bodies in a sexual manner.
Me at 16: Fair enough.
Me: My second point is this: everyone, men and women, are made in the image of God.
Me at 16: I’ve heard that before.
Me: Yeah, so in other words, when we twist the opposite sex into merely sexual beings, we diminish the creation of God.
Me at 16: Hm…guess that kinda makes ya think.
Me: Yeah, it does.
Me at 16: Okay, so what’s your other point?
Me: I’ve got two kids at home.
Me at 16: Okay?
Me: Two daughters.
Me at 16: Oh…wow. That’s cool.
Me: Yeah dude. It’s “cool”. Actually, it’s beyond cool. It’s an incredibly terrifying thrill ride of responsibility. I tell you this, however, to let you know that once you have kids, especially daughters, your views on the opposite sex tend to change.
Me at 16: How so?
Me: I cannot imagine some boy ever viewing my precious girls in the manner that I’ve viewed females in the past. Especially during high school and college.
Me at 16: Guess I never really thought of it that way.
Me: Understandable. It’s hard to until you’re a father. But remember, all these girls you see every day, they are all somebody’s daughter. And believe it or not, while you and the rest of your buddies are talking about bra sizes and sharing tasteless jokes, these girls are dreaming about a boy that will care about them and guard their heart. Doesn’t matter if it’s a cheerleader, athlete, band member, or short, tall, girls with braces or freckles. They all want to be respected.
Me at 16: You’re sounding a little preachy.
Me: Dude, are you getting it?
Me at 16: Okay, okay. Treat the girls with more respect. Got it.
Me: Good. At least that’s a starting point.
Me at 16: It’s not really that much of an issue anyway. Not like I date any or really have a girlfriend.
Me: That’s not a bad thing.
Me at 16: I mean, I’m 135 pounds soaking wet. Weird hair. Kinda awkward.
Me: I remember. Good news is awkward doesn’t last forever.
Me at 16: Sure hope not.
Me: Just have confidence. Girls dig that. And the words, the poetry. They like that too.
Me at 16: Yeah, but I mean who writes poetry? Isn’t that kinda emo?
Me: Yeah, but it’s cool. You find something your passionate about, go with it.
Me at 16: Yeah, maybe you’re right. Sometimes I just wanna quit it though. If I don’t think I’m good at it, why keep doing it?
Me: <sigh> You’ve always been a quitter. Why is that?
Me at 16: What are you talking about?
Me: You quit band. You quit art. You quit playing sports for the most part.
Me at 16: I was never really good at any of that crap!
Me: So your brilliant idea was to just quit? What good does that do?
Me at 16: I don’t know.
Me: Listen, life is short. Don’t grow up wishing you had done something when you were younger that you had the chance to do.
Me at 16: There’s that regret thing again.
Me: Yeah. So instead of quitting everything, how about following through with something? Show a little perseverance.
Me at 16: What should I do?
Me: Try out for the basketball team.
Me at 16: You’re nuts.
Me at 16: Do you know how good the team is? No way would I make the team.
Me: So? The worst thing that will happen is them saying no. And if they do, then at least you can say you had the stones to try.
Me at 16: Failure scares the crap out of me.
Me: I get it. That feeling doesn’t really go away.
Me at 16: So no advice on that?
Me: Things get better. They get easier. Fear is a good thing in small doses. Don’t let it lead your life though. Doing things or not doing things based on fear is never healthy.
Me at 16: So no regrets, right?
Me: Yeah. Definitely some things I wish I had done differently. But God gives us opportunities to learn from regrets and failures. That’s why He’s so awesome.
Me at 16: Speaking of God…what’s up with church?
Me: What do you mean?
Me at 16: Why does it suck so bad? Do you ever get to a point where you actually enjoy it?
Me: Listen. I know it’s a hard thing for you right now, the whole church thing. Dad’s a pastor, so you’re there at least three times a week for stuff. On top of that, you hear some pretty crappy things said about dad. It’s not easy at all to enjoy it.
Me at 16: Right. So does it get any better?
Me: Sure it does.
Me at 16: How? And…when?
Me: For me, it was when I was in college.
Me at 16: Oh wow.
Me: Yeah. It was there God finally shook me and woke me up. I understood finally the church isn’t just a building. I learned it isn’t a country club with exclusive membership and snobby old people. I learned it isn’t what I had experienced at times growing up.
Me at 16: So what is it then?
Me: It’s the body of Christ. It’s the very people Jesus died for that gave their hearts over to Him. It’s not just where you’re going to sit in a pew every Sunday morning. It’s the collective group of His followers world wide.
Me at 16: That makes sense I guess. It doesn’t make it easier.
Me: You know what does? Understanding the church is a group of broken people in need of a Savior.
Me at 16: A lot of broken people it seems.
Me: Yeah. The other thing that helps? Forgiveness. It’s much easier to spend your next few months and years being bitter to people in the church. The hard thing to do is forgive them. But I did. Why? Because Christ forgave me for all the wrongs I had done and still yet to do.
Me at 16: There you go preaching again.
Me: Dude, I’m not preaching. Just telling you what’s helped me.
Me at 16: Okay. Anything else I should know?
Me: Read your Bible more. Not just the parts that are easy to understand. Read the ones that are difficult and challenge you.
Me at 16: It’s hard to make time for the Bible.
Me: Yeah I understand. In between pick-up basketball games, AOL Instant Messenger, and getting the fatality moves down pat for Mortal Kombat II, I can understand why time would be an issue.
Me at 16: Ha ha. Funny.
Me: For real bro. Make time for the Word, even if it’s just 10 minutes. You’ll get more than you could imagine from it. Also it helps you remember in all the stuff going on, you’re never alone.
Me at 16: Sure does feel like it sometimes.
Me: I know. But luckily you have two parents and two sisters that are great at helping out.
Me at 16: Do you know how weird Mom and Dad are?
Me: Haha yeah I do. But they’re awesome.
Me at 16: I guess, but they’re a little too goofy with each other. And me.
Me: Yeah you know what? You’ll appreciate that one day. Don’t ever take for granted all the times Mom says she loves you and Dad tells you how proud he is of you. You have no idea how many other kids never hear those words from their parents.
Me at 16: Fair enough, but they always act silly with each other, kissing each other and stuff.
Me: Yep. What you’re seeing is a godly marriage at work.
Me at 16: It’s gross!
Me: For now it is. Later on, you’ll realize how blessed you are to have parents that love each other so much.
Me at 16: You’re starting to sound like dad. Like an old man.
Me: Hey easy tiger. I’m only 32!
Me at 16: 33 in a month.
Me: Whatever. I need to get to work.
Me at 16: Yeah I got some IMs to get back to on the computer.
Me: Pathetic. Did you know in a few years you can have those same conversations through your cell phone?
Me at 16: Through a cell what?
Me: Nevermind. Just pick up the phone and call her if you want to talk.
Me at 16: Too scared to do that.
Me: Grow up dude.
Me at 16: Yeah yeah. See ya man.
Me: Good talking to you. Try to listen to at least a few of the things I said.
Me at 16: I will. Respect girls, love mom and dad, and read the Bible. That about sum it up?
Me: Pretty much. And enjoy the hair while it lasts. It’ll all be gone soon.
Me at 16: Ugh. That sucks. Hey I forgot to ask: where is your wife from?
Me: Florence, South Carolina. About an hour from Myrtle Beach.
Me at 16: Hmm…never heard of it.
Me: Here’s a shocker: she’s never heard of Chesnee either.
Me at 16: Ha ha. Chesnee is gettin’ old.
Me: Ha. It’s not that bad. Anyways, enjoy life now, but remember that God is good and life only gets better.
Me at 16: Cool beans. Thanks man.
Me: Oh, and “cool beans” isn’t a thing anymore.
Me at 16: Got it. See ya.
Me: Take care dude.