Today marks 7 years since I returned from serving a two-year mission for my church. I always remember significant dates for some reason. It can be a good thing and a bad thing, depending on what you want to remember.
I have pondered on what I have done and what I have become over the last 7 years since coming home. What have I accomplished? Who am I now? Have I lived up to what I imagined I would be when I was setting goals on the plane from Santiago to Atlanta? Is God pleased? Who is Andy Proctor now?
I love the story of Pharaoh's dream of the 7 fat cows and the 7 thin cows in Genesis 41. It tells of prophecy and preparation. God gave Pharaoh 7 good years to prepare for the 7 years of famine and pestilence. Once the 7 years were up, the famine started and it was time to test their preparation and efforts.
I honestly don't think that the next 7 years of my life are going to be filled with famine and pestilence. I do think that there are going to be hard times though and I am extremely grateful for the things that I have learned in the last 7 years. I recently read a very insightful article that I wish I would have read 3 years ago when I actually was 25. It talks about 11 things that you should know when you are 25-ish. Some of the things I was patting myself on the back for. Some I was kicking myself for. And some of the advice caused me to set goals for the next 25 years. I am nearing the "end" of the decade of decision (20 - 30) and really want to make the next decade exciting and abundant. I have spoken with many of my friends who are at this same stage and many have been afraid of entering into their 30s. Why? Most because of the physical decline. Others because they feel like they still haven't really decided what they are doing with their life.
I think that life should not be lived in fear nor should it be lived with the idea that there will be a point in life that is going to be horrible or that won't be as good as before (like any time past your 30s). We should never anticipate a gloomy time. Dante did say that "The arrow seen before cometh less rudely” (Divine Comedy, “Paradise,” canto 17, line 24). We should try to look ahead and prepare (for the 7 lean years). However, we should not live in anticipation of life getting worse. It just gets better and better. You just have to change the way you look at it and redetermine what your purpose is in your situation. I also highly recommend getting an inoculation against atelophobia. How? Mess up for crying out loud!! Life can't be perfect and until you realize this, you will live in fear of not being perfect. And honestly, your life will be half-lived. Just accept that you aren't and you will most definitely smile more than you will cry.
George Bernard Shaw said: "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
The next 7 years of my life will most likely be spent (just as the last 7 years) making mistakes. But I also commit to being very useful and learning a LOT by messing up. I don't plan to mess up, but I surely will. And I am completely okay with it.
I believe that the more you mess up, and then adapt, the better you are. I think that is why most older people are so happy. They aren't just complacent and apathetic. They have in their possession a certain elixer that causes them to smile more every day (even if that smile is more wrinkly and has less teeth included). It's called wisdom: "The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment."
Good judgement comes almost solely from experience - which comes from making decisions based off of bad judgement. Feel free to disagree. And let's talk in 7 years so I can learn from your mistakes; and you from mine.