So my cover picture is a little tongue-in-cheek: today is Youth Day in South Africa and I came face to face with my age. To be more precise: how very old I suddenly feel! It seems somehow appropriate that I spent Youth Day in Stellenbosch today – the place I’ll always associate with my own youth. I’ve been back to the town on many occasions since leaving it several (several SEVERAL) years ago, but somehow today felt different. I took an hour to walk down the familiar streets, paused at the buildings that had been so much a part of my day-to-day reality and it got me thinking about Life and Choices and the Journey I’ve made…
As a teacher, I get asked the same old question by scores of students: “Ma’am, do you have any regrets in life?” I usually roll out the same old story about how I chose to go to Ireland instead of taking a job that would have led to a career in the film industry, and although I don’t technically regret the decision, I do sometimes wonder how life might have been quite different if I’d chosen otherwise… but beyond that, I haven’t really questioned my life choices. I always just knew I wanted to study drama and Stellenbosch was a given – I didn’t even apply to other universities. But today, the thought popped into my head: “If you were given a Do Over, would you still make the choices you did?” It got me thinking.
I don’t really know if I would. Then again, we didn’t have the same “things” back then, as the kids do now (yes, I just referred to varsity students as kids. I am going to go cry in a corner for a moment.) The most exciting thing on our cellphones was the ability to send a 150 character SMS! Facebook wasn’t even a thing. What was Social Media? Life was so very different.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved Stellenbosch. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to have lived and studied and worked there. Its a beautiful little town. I have incredible memories of fun times with friends and carefree summer days wine tasting and strawberry picking and countless res/ faculty/ digs dances and dress up parties… the people I met because of Stellenbosch will always have a very special place in my heart.
The proverbial “they” say youth is wasted on the young; I couldn’t agree with them more. I don’t regret the things I did when I was young; its the stuff I didn’t do that found its way into my thoughts this morning – the opportunities I didn’t take, the fears I gave into and the energy I wasted trying to impress people whose names I can’t remember anymore. If I could relive those years, I would do it so very differently: I wouldn’t care quite so much what others thought, I would be kinder to myself about my appearance, I would dare to take those risks and I would have put myself out there more instead of holding back and hiding in my little Safety Zone.
I guess its fairly pointless wasting the Present pondering too deeply on the Past – unless those reflections lead to a change of thinking and inspiration to make the most of every moment that lies ahead… and to Trust that God has a perfect plan for each of us (good old Jeremiah 29:11) and that He leads us along the paths He has planned for us, so that however we make our choices, He is still Sovereign and still in control and still (above all else) a Loving Father who Provides in our Due Season. I received many prophetic words and promises while in Stellenbosch that yes, I am still waiting to see fulfilled. Today reminded me that God’s timing is perfect, His character is consistent in His Faithfulness and no matter the detours I may have taken in life, He’s got this.
Onward to Good Things.