Guest Post: A Letter To My Younger Self: How to Navigate Your 20’s.
Today’s guest post is by my good friend, Mwangi Kiara. To have him share with us his life’s reflections in the form of a letter is an honor. Mwangi is a recurrent contributor to this blog. You can find his previous post here.
The one ‘problem’ that comes up when a 31-year-old writes a letter to their younger self is an acute awareness that there isn’t much history to write about. The message would most likely only span a decade worth of life. However, that said, a decade is enough time to look back at and have enough to say.
Dear Younger Mwangi,
I hope this letter finds you well enough. First things first, you will live for at least 31 years. That means you will be immortal till then. You don’t know it yet and are probably anxious about it, but rest easy. I hope to share with you certain things, through this letter to your younger self, that you should look out for and be aware of as you go about navigating your twenties.
1. Don’t underestimate what you can do for God in a decade.
Dear Mwangi, the thief on the cross, wasted most of his life apart from the last few where he despaired of himself and trusted Christ. As soon as he believed in the person of Christ, he began the good work of commending Christ to the unbelieving thief next to him. He did this by rebuking his fellow thief for not fearing God, fairly judging their sinful state, and rightfully pointing out that Jesus was innocent (Luke 23:39-41). The penitent thief will be judged based on just about three hours of good works. If that be the case, imagine what you can do for God in a decade. Younger Mwangi, I know you are aching to go out into the world, be somebody, and do great things. Those are okay things to aspire to, especially in your 20’s. But I want you to pray hard, that God would give you a heart burning with desire to do the great works planned ahead of time for you to do.
2. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Younger Mwangi, that which worries your younger self most, will probably not matter in some years, in the grand scheme of things. It is sad how heavy those burdens seem to be. Those terrible anxieties that plague your heart; where shall you work? When will you move out? How soon will you start dating? Will you get married to the one you date first? Etc.
I need you to know that your God is sovereign and what David writes in Psalm 139 should help quieten your anxieties;
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Please pick and read Tim Keller’s book ‘The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy.’ It’ll be worth your time. Live your life seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
3. Seek Wisdom
Dear Mwangi, read good books and read them several times. You are in much need of wisdom, young man. Wisdom is lacking in your life, yet you will need her in navigating through your life! Your lack of wisdom is quite unfortunate because, in its pairing, is simple-mindedness whereby you hardly give deep thought to anything including your decisions. You will do yourself a great favor if you seek wisdom first from God’s word and the many books available to you. The Lord has assured you, multiple times, that if you ask him for wisdom, he will lavish it upon you. Do you believe that young man? Take God at his word and ask for it now, younger self!
4. Keep an eye on your habits.
Regarding your habits, It is as simple as this; whichever habit you feed grows, and those you starve die. Apply this lesson to all the great habits you’d want to cultivate in your life and those that you’d prefer killing. Keep an eye on your daily interaction with God through prayer and the reading of his word. Make it a habit to seek him every day. Make hard work a staple in your life and guard how you walk in sexual purity. Habits that you cultivate by God’s grace will serve you well even when your flesh is weak. If, on the other hand, you pay little to no attention to your habits, your flesh will rule and govern your life, and you will find yourself a slave to your flesh.
5. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.
Younger self, it will often seem like your life hinges on choices that you make, and you will want room to change your mind often. In one sense, changing your mind is a preserve of those humble enough to acknowledge when they are in error. However, that notwithstanding, it is also the surest way of living a life void of any commitment to anything. Ask God to give you a robust singularity in your decisions and a sharp decisiveness in your life. Ensure that there is a why behind all the choices and decisions you are making. Doing this will keep you from going along with the crowd, and/or, in the words of Frank Sinatra, ‘doing it your way.’
6. Run lean.
Dear Mwangi, do not laden yourself with needless baggage as you grow up. Ecclesiastes 11:9 says;
“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your hearts and in the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” A young Jonathan Edwards famously wrote, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” The only way you can enjoy life and have full freedom is by having your eyes on eternity to come. Keep your eyes and your heart’s affection in the other world to come. If you do this, you will find less space for encumbrances that would otherwise slow you down.
7. Love the Lord.
Dear Mwangi, I write this point last because you should remember it if you forget everything else. Plead with the Lord to grant that your heart’s affections would be his and his alone. Fight the world’s wiles with a robust love for the Lord. In the book of Deuteronomy, God promises you that he will enable you to love him. He says, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” Resolve to do and be good may serve you for a while, but it is your love for God that will keep you from sin.
Finally, the coming decade of your life, dear younger self, will bring some great joys with it and some significant lows as well. Ask God for grace and wisdom for both those days and many more.