I don’t know why it is said that life begins at 40. Mine began when I learnt what my purpose on this earth was. As I marked yet another birthday this year, I couldn’t help but take a look back at my life with gladness and gratitude. The milestones have taught me some great life lessons and knowing what I know now, I feel the need to write a letter of advice to my younger self. Here goes:
Dear Younger Me,
The heart is the vital centre of one’s being, emotions and feelings, so guard it. Set boundaries around it, especially against anything that would defile it for everything you say and do flows from it. The Bible talks about a good man bringing good things out of the good stored up in his heart, hence the mouth will speak what the heart is full of. Considering life has its ups and downs, learn to de-clutter your heart by forgiving others and yourself so that only what is good and edifying will flow from it.
Learn to govern your tongue; the wisdom and grace that enable you to rule your actions will also help you rule your tongue. Restrain your mouth with a muzzle especially when you face the wicked. You see, the tongue is like a helm that is used to steer a ship – though small, the captain uses it to move the whole ship in the direction he pleases. So resolve to steer your whole body by managing the tongue, in which there is an affluence of sin.
In Ecclesiastes 5:6, Solomon says: “Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin.” The fruit that comes from guarding the tongue includes good thoughts, blessed affections and eager devotion to be of use in faith and the service of God. Learn how to speak life into your situations and cancel any words of death pronounced on you by anyone.
Grow in wisdom by seeking knowledge and information. Develop the habit of investing in and reading books, plug in to study groups, have a library at home; heck you can even start a book club to help you read more widely!
Have goals. Break them down into short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. They will help you focus on what is important and keep you on the right path. Are you passionate about something? Pursue it without apology or excuse. And have a confidant who can patiently listen to your failures and offer redemptive counsel. Remember to be a good steward of what you possess. Make the most out of your skills and opportunities, and build your character – it helps to sustain your achievements in life.
Seek to grow in the fear of God, work hard and refuse to be idle. Respect your spouse and submit to him, have foresight, care and encourage others because this brings enjoyment, success, honour and worth.
A good hobby brings health. Learn a new sport, a new language, an instrument, take up dance lessons; consider travelling and you will find out it is not only your mother who can cook good food!
With wisdom, invest time and money in people, and give back to the community. It is of virtue when you are shrewd in economic matters.
Running away from tests and trials will deprive you of the kind of character needed to withstand the storms of life so don’t chicken out.
Honour your mother and father – it is a commandment with a promise. And remember to extend grace to others.
Laughter is the best medicine so laugh from the heart. I hear there is a senior citizens’ laughter club that helps the members live beyond 100 years.
Be aware of your biological clock but at the same time, try and hold your ‘fire’ until marriage before you bear children. Listen to me, Kenyan-African woman, ‘Usichana wako ni siri yako’ (your womanhood is your secret), so guard your womanhood. How can you keep your ways pure? By hiding God’s word in your heart. Let the words of the Bible be a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path of choices.
Fear will keep you from achieving anything and making meaningful strides in your life. Have the courage to keep going, not because fear will be absent but despite the existence of it.
Look forward to loving and being loved for love is a wonderful thing. Knowing someone loves you with a pure love will make your heart swell with joy. There is absolutely nothing better than love. It can mellow even the toughest of hearts. But be warned that the heart can sometimes blind you and lead you to make bad choices and take you places you did not intend to go. Create harmony between your heart and mind because when one wants to stay the other will want to look away.
After a break-up, don’t blame everything on love. Get past the burns and bruises of heartbreak and learn your lessons to avoid falling for the same lies and tricks next time.
Be intentional about resting. It gives you time to rejuvenate, to review your progress and most importantly to be refreshed.
And when you fall, get back up again. I said get back up again. Get up, shake off the dust, press the reset button and keep going. Do not label mistakes as regrets but rather life lessons.