Do you know what you want from this life? Take a moment and think about it. Where are you going? I’m not saying you need the whole thing mapped out, just some basic ideas. Let me ask you a few questions.
Do you want to be married someday? Don’t be offended by the question please, I know that’s probably a long ways off for you if you fall under the age of 24. People are waiting longer and longer to sign their lives away. Just think about it though; marriage. Making the choice to spend this short life with someone you love. Can you see their smile? Can you feel the warmth of their hand in yours, the comfort of their embrace? Can you imagine the peace that comes with the knowledge that this person will be with you for better or for worse, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. The wedding dress, the timeless ceremony. The two of you standing before God and man, proclaiming your love, committing to fidelity, creating a bond that will not be broken, till death parts your paths. Marriage.
What about what inevitably comes next; kids? If the first question was too much to consider then this one probably has you really upset, but just humor me. Do you want to have children someday? Can you imagine holding your child for the very first time, hearing their cry? Picture their vulnerability, their dependence. Any parent will tell you that the love between a parent and a child is something unparalleled by any relationship you will ever experience. I’m told that there is a part of Gods love that can only be understood when you have children of your own. I imagine it’s a desperate love, one that longs to comfort, to protect, to provide. A love that is willing to sacrifice your own wants and desires to provide for another. Children.
Perhaps you don’t want either of these things. There’s nothing wrong with that. Even so, there must be something you desire. This whole life is a pursuit; we pursue what we desire. So I have one last question; how do you want to be remembered? Too cliché? Think about it anyway, just for a moment. You don’t have to die to leave a legacy. We live out our legacy every day. We choose to be either a blessing or a curse, there is no in between. A few days ago I attended the funeral service of a great man and old friend of my family. The church was nearly full, many tears were shed, and one after another his friends and family stood up to speak about how he had touched their lives. A six-year-old boy got up in front of the crowd to share what I believe is safe to assume was the general sentiment; “George was a good man, and he was my friend”. His legacy did not come about as the result of his death, it was built up everyday of his life, with every smile he shared. A legacy earned over a lifetime.
You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with the title of this post. YOLO. Well, now that I’ve asked you a few questions, I want you to take your answers and paint a picture of that reality in your mind. Picture your family, your legacy, the things you’re leaving behind. Put it in the frame of a full life. Can you see it?
My challenge is this; don’t do anything that would take away from the beauty of that picture. You only live once. We’ve got one shot, one opportunity, one race to run, the span of which lasts only a lifetime. This acronym may be new, but the lifestyle is not. Our generation has not only abused this particular phrase to justify all kinds of destructive behavior, many of us have embraced this mentality as a way of life. You only live once, might as well party with no care for consequences, might as well sleep with her, might as well try it.
And what is the result? Broken pictures. Pictures missing people, missing hope, missing smiles. A child with a father she will never know, a family who mourns the loss of their child who chose to drive drunk, or the drunkard who has to live with the fact that they have taken a life. A realization that maybe sex isn’t just physical after all. Wishing that we weren’t carrying so much baggage from all the nights we went at with a YOLO mindset. I don’t mean to be dark, but I believe in giving people you love the truth.
None of us is perfect, and perfection isn’t what I’m asking for. What I am asking is that we keep in mind the fact the voices of our decisions echo into the future. At the funeral service somebody who spoke shared this quote, “God has appointed judgment day at the end of all time because our decisions shape the world even after our deaths.” You only live once; your decisions live on forever. Paint a beautiful picture with your life. Fill your days with adventure, chase after your love, pursue your dreams and satisfy your soul. We have only one life to live, let’s not waste it. Live with your heart in the moment, but let your eyes look toward the future. #YOLO