I have lived nineteen full years. I have tasted life but it has not been as sweet as I expected. When you are a child, you see your parents drinking coffee and enjoying it. You ask for some – imagining how good it must be. They deny you – insisting you won’t like it. Now thwarted, you are convinced this elixir must be heavenly and that is why they are selfishly keeping it to themselves. You plead with them for just a taste. “Fine,” they say and carefully hand you the mug. Anticipation building, you raise the mug to your lips and a fully-grown scent reaches your nose. You drink – eagerly expecting joy and love in a cup. You burn your tongue. Your nose crinkles at the bitterness and it leaves a taste in your mouth not wholly unlike sidewalk chalk. You push the mug back into the hands of your parents with disgust heavily brewed on your face. They laugh and say, “We told you that you wouldn’t like it.”
This is not very different from how I feel about life so far. Except, they don’t warn you that you won’t like it – instead, they lie to you and tell you that it will be wonderful. And, unlike a cup of coffee, you can’t hand life back to the One who gave it to you and say, “No, thanks.” No, you must keep drinking that bitter stuff and do your best to acquire a taste for it.
Don’t get me wrong – I have no regrets. I don’t believe in regret, actually. As soon as you start regretting something, you are saying that God can’t use that for your good and His glory – both of which, by the way, are intertwined. Yes, I made mistakes – lots of them. But guess what. I learned that God loves people who make mistakes. The wrongs I have done now enable me to look across the table and make heart felt eye contact with other mistake-makers. Another thing – I’m not afraid of Hell anymore because I’ve been there and as I lay dying there, my Savior came into Hell to rescue me. I no longer fear it because Jesus conquered it while holding me in His arms.
I won’t even try to pretend that my hard times are over or that I’ve paid my dues. No. I’ve also learned that everything that comes your way is a building block – a platform – a preparation for what is to come.
Headed into my twenties, I first want to thank God for everything that’s happened in the first nineteen years of life – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It has all formed me into the person I am – daughter of God and bride of Christ. It’s also given me a sure foundation upon which to stand. Like I said, no guilt in life and no fear in death. But I think I’d like to walk a little differently. I’ll always love love and life and happiness so I’ll always be on the lookout for those things. But I’d like to seek lessons instead of instant rewards. I’d like to learn to be the best doorkeeper. I’d like to learn to share without expecting repayment. I’d like to learn to exist on my own and not be afraid of that.
And I write this to you as I drink a cup of coffee – cut in half with milk and sugar. I’m not resigning myself to the bitter taste but I am learning how to be able to enjoy it.