This past week my kids traveled down to Ohio to spend time with their grandparents. During the trip they received a gift from my dad—a digital recording of me playing basketball as a high school senior. I have to be honest, it’s more than a bit embarrassing—and I’m not just talking about the too-short shorts.
A lot has changed since those days—mostly me. These days I wear longer shorts, have grayer hair, and sport a much huskier physique. But it’s not just my clothing and body that have changed—so has my mind. It’s been a long road between there and here.
As I watched that video of my teammates and me running up and down the basketball court, I started to daydream about what I’d like to say to seventeen-year-old Dennis if I had the chance. I came up with four things.
- Life is not a competition—your worth is not tied to winning.
- Don’t be so judgmental.
- Go fishing with Poppaw and ask him to tell you every story he can remember.
- Spend time with Paul.
Those of you who know me, especially those who knew the seventeen-year-old me, will likely understand this list. For the rest of you, here are some insights that might help.
Seventeen-year-old Dennis didn’t understand that trying and failing is often better than winning or succeeding. He didn’t know that mercy triumphs over judgment. He didn’t realize that when his grandfather was telling him stories, he was actually passing along wisdom that could make his life much easier. And he certainly didn’t think he’d be sitting at Paul’s funeral 4 short years after graduation.
Take time to be with those you love. Listen to wisdom that comes from age. Extend mercy rather than judgment – it’s the way of Christ. Excellence is not a prerequisite for love or acceptance.
These have been hard-learned lessons—mostly because I have to keep learning them over and over.
The video my dad sent back with the kids reminds me that as human beings we are always becoming—always moving. Sixty-year-old Dennis won’t be the same at forty-year-old Dennis. I just hope he continues to move in the right direction.