Embrace It

My firstborn turns sixteen tomorrow.

Jude with a rare caught-on-camera smile on the first day of school.

Jude with a rare caught-on-camera smile on the first day of school.

I remember my sixteenth birthday clearly. My parents had split the year before but were still in the middle of a protracted divorce. I’d had a good year socially, finally coming out of my shell and into a leadership role, thanks to a great group of friends at youth group and the insight of my youth pastor. I had several good friends (who remain friends to this day), who threw me a birthday party for “Sweet Sixteen”.

However, internally, I was a mess. It had been a year since I’d asked Jesus to be my Lord and Saviour, and while I was grateful for the work he was already doing in me, at the same time, I was grieving the family ideal I would never have (and didn’t realize I was). Add normal teenage hormonal flux to the mix, and my emotions were in a constant state of turmoil.

I hoped that “Sweet Sixteen,” the romanticized ideal, would be the harbinger of the beginning of the way I always hoped my life would go.

Looking back, it was one of my worst years as far as “stuff that happened.” Thank goodness I didn’t know that going in.

On the other hand, I grew as a person more that year than any year before that. It was the year when I first felt called to go into missions and began looking for programs to participate in—a yearning that would eventually lead me to go to India, get to know my future husband, and forever change the way I viewed the world.

It was the year I grew up … the first time. (I still feel like I’m “growing up” sometimes, don’t you?)

The great thing about sixteen is that you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and you can literally do whatever you want with it. You could go any direction, choose any destiny.

That’s also the terrifying thing.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I have been looking forward to my son’s sixteenth birthday. He is no longer a boy. He is most definitely a young man, and while we are by no means kicking him out of the nest, I know that from here on out, he will be forging his own path. Which is how it should be.

We’ve raised him to think, and to take initiative, and to take responsibility. We’ve always been his biggest cheerleaders, and lately, we’ve been seeing that bear fruit as he has explored different interests and passions without waiting for permission (or financial support, thanks to his job) from us.

To say I’m proud of the young man he has become would be an understatement. I’m in awe.

No, he’s not perfect, but who is? Perfect is boring, anyway.

The great thing about sixteen is that you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and you can literally do whatever you want with it. You could go any direction, choose any destiny.

That’s also the terrifying thing, ‘mIright?

I think the hard, scary thing about all those options is the pressure—if I go this way, what would have happened if I’d chosen that one? Will I miss out on something great because I chose this now?

Now, at forty-*cough* years old, I can’t go back to my own sixteen-year-old self and say, “Relax, it will be okay. You don’t have to have everything figured out yet. There are very few mistakes that can’t be fixed, and there are few roads from which you can’t change direction. But you can make any choice great.”

But I can say it to Jude. And I can say it to you.

Photo courtesy of  123rf.com, yarruta

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com, yarruta

No matter your age, it’s not too late to chase your dream. Maybe you’re already doing it, which is awesome. Or maybe we are closing out another year where you have still been making excuses about why you didn’t go for the longing of your heart.

Life is long, but it’s also short. Do you really want to spend a minute of it not living up to your potential? Do you want to look back and say, “I intentionally settled in this area?”

I don’t. I hope that in my words and example both, I am showing my children that chasing dreams may be scary, but it’s also worth it.

So to Jude, and to you, and to me, I say that today is the day to go for it. Today is your chance to change your life.

Your future is waiting. Embrace it.


I have been a Josh Groban fan since he released his very first album. This morning, I began listening to his latest album, Bridges, for the very first time—but still haven’t gotten past the first song. This song, "Granted”, has literally wrecked me all five times I’ve listened to it.

I know it’s November, and in northern Alberta, at least, winter has arrived. But I hope this song inspires you to make a resolution to go for it, do better, be better today. You don’t need to wait for January 1, “someday,” or “tomorrow.” God put you here to shine, and he has so much in store for you. Don’t take a single breath for granted.

Granted

Josh Groban

Have you ever felt it could all go away
If you blink
If you never stop running you won't fall behind
So you think
And you wonder in your heart
If you're still not who you are
Who are you?
Nothing's as it seems till it all falls apart

If you have a dream, go chase it
If you feel hope, don't waste it
If you find love, embrace it
And never take a single breath for granted
The story's yours, go write it
Tomorrow's undecided
Our days are counted on this planet
Never take a single breath
Take a single breath for granted

Maybe it's time you bet on yourself
Listen to your heart
Just listen to your heart and nobody else
So go find out who you are
Only you know who you are
Who are you?
'Cause all you have to lose
Is your best life yet
So go ahead

If you have a dream, go chase it
If you feel hope, don't waste it
If you find love, embrace it
And never take a single breath for granted
The story's yours, go write it
Tomorrow's undecided
Our days are counted on this planet
Never take a single breath
Take a single breath for granted

Sometimes the greatest moment we'll ever know
Are when we're letting go, so let go
And maybe our brightest days still wait for us
In the unknown

If you have a dream, go chase it
If you feel hope, don't waste it
If you find love, embrace it
And never take a single breath for granted
If you have a light, go find it
The story's yours, go write it
Our days are counted on this planet
So never take a single breath
Take a single breath for granted

Songwriters: Josh Groban / Bernie Herms / Toby Gab

Granted lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group