In my youth, I looked up to individuals thirty and older as individuals filled with wisdom. Implied in my admiration was as premise; they never made my mistakes. I understood they were human and prone to a failure on occasion. Yet in my youth I believed the weaknesses I stumbled over were ones that they had met, fought, and conquered. As I aged, my premise did not change, although gap between me and the age of wisdom seemed to always remain the same.
As I tripped the other day, the truth of the matter became undeniably obvious. The weaknesses of my youth may seem visually different, yet to my heart they are essentially the same! Needs, wants, and thirsts, often at the expense of my values and aspirations, are windows leading to failure. When I open them, I trip and stumble. In short, I fail to live up to my ideas which in turn are far short of perfection.
As human as this is, I treasure the hand of growth and redemption. I can learn, even in my greyness. I can change my habits and preferences. With the help of divinity in all her forms, I can be a better man.
If I could talk to my younger self hiding within, I would say the following.
You are never perfect. In moments of greatness, there are lessons of mercy, community, and compassion. In moments where you find yourself falling face down, remember even the great ones have done this as well. If you deny the latter, read and reflect on one writer’s observation of a great leader; “They [God’s people] angered God again at Meribah Springs; this time Moses got mixed up in their evil.” (Psalm 106.32)
In any given moment, there are lessons that can be used to find, choose, and step towards a better path. If you cannot see them, find others to help you see them. If you cannot embrace them, find someone to give you strength and courage. You are never alone unless you choose to be.
There is no immunity.