Picture This: Forever Changed

“Hey you…excuse me! Can I ask you a question?” I was a 14 year old boy at this point in my life and I had gained a certain amount of wisdom in my early years. When a cute girl came up to me, wanting to ask me something, it is courteous to oblige and give her my full attention. “Sure”, I said trying not to give any indication that my 14 year old mind was already trying to control the hormone flow to my body. We were at a youth retreat with a number of other churches, so I felt more bold to speak to girls I knew I would never see again (this was before social media). She was easy on the eyes, for sure, but I was so unskilled in the ways of women.

She looked at me with these mezmorizing blue eyes and asked if she could take my picture. I thought it was because she saw me from a distance and thought I was attractive…nope. There was a different reason entirely. It turns out that this girl was simply doing her friend a favor by taking my picture. Apparently, I looked a lot like a friend from school named Frank (pronounced Frahnk). The resemblence was so uncanny that it deserved a picture. She even asked another guy to join the photo to ease the awkwardness of the moment. I went with it but I was so disappointed. Even though the interaction was brief, I knew I had to work on my skills with the opposite sex. She was cute though. No doubt about it. I knew I never would see her again, but I still chickened out, and never made another move.

A few years later, I started dating Kara (who is now my wife) and things were getting serious. I had made the cut (in my mind at least), and she started telling her friends about me and I realized she was the one I wanted to be with forever (I had a quick attachment). When we were dating a little less than a year, I attended Kara’s graduation open house, and got to meet some of her friends and extended family. Things were going well.

During the party, I met one of Kara’s friends (who also happened to be named Kara), and I noticed her friend was staring at me in an odd way. For the rest of this conversation, to avoid confusion, I will call my Kara, Kara 1 and her friend, Kara 2.

Kara 2: (Head slanted…staring at me) Hey Kara…your boyfriend looks like a friend of mine.

Kara 1: Really? Who is that?

Kara 2: He…looks like my friend Frank (pronounced Frahnk)

Kara 1: That’s cool.

Kara 2: Do…(pause)…do you remember that time we were at that youth retreat when I showed you that guy who looked like Frank and I asked you to…

Kara 1: …take his picture….yes…

Both of the girls looked at me and my eyes were wide at this point. The conversation went silent, my palms instantly started to sweat, and then we all immediately made the same realization. My girlfriend was the one who took that picture of me years ago, and we didn’t even know each other. I never thought I would see her again. I had completely forgotten this whole event even occured. That memory came flooding back into my mind and it dawned on me that I was in the midst of one of those situations that only God could have orchestrated.

I wish I would have made my move when I was 14. Perhaps that would have given me a few more years with the woman I love more than life.

Now, we have 2 beautiful kids, and I have been forever changed…by a simple picture.

Yes...this was the actual picture taken, by a cute girl that I never thought I would see again.
Yes…this was the actual picture taken, by a cute girl that I never thought I would see again.

5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Past Self

5 Things I Wish I CouldDo you ever reflect on the person that you once were and confusingly scratch your head? “What was I thinking?” you may ponder to yourself, but we all know we can’t go back in time. What if we could, though? What if we could hop in our time machine that we just purchased at Target (I love that place) and give our past self a tiny nugget of wisdom.

For me, I could have taken myself to a really long lunch and laid out thousands of  “truths” that would have proven handy. BUT, as the famous female scholar from YouTube once said, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”. Regardless, as I was thinking of this concept, a few things came to mind. I wish I could visit my past self and tell him a few things that I hope he would remember (you would think that meeting the future you…in all his hairless glory would be memorable to say the least).

Here are 5 things I wish I could tell my past self.

1. Give more– Here is the first thing you need to know. I am not going to spoil the surprise for you, but when you get older you are going to see the miracle of God’s provision so many times that it will amaze you. God doesn’t give you things because you give, but blessing is a natural byproduct of generosity. The math with never add up on your earthly calculator, but I am telling you…giving will bring joy.

2. Being cool doesn’t matter– It’s true. Those people that you think are so cool and “popular” will some day work for a call center or have a record of misdemeanors. Don’t worry though…you will never be the cool type, so you are safe. I can also tell you that no matter how “cool” you are you are being watched and you can decide now whether or not God will have an influence on your behavior. Drop the need to impress…it is a waste of time and energy.

3. When you find “the one”– Ok…I really don’t want to give away the surprise, but I promise she is out there. You will have kids too, and they will be great. Look for the girl of your dreams in the fall of your junior year of high school. You will know…trust me. Oh…and treat her like a queen. All I can tell you is that she will be royalty and worth every ounce of energy you have…AND I know your hormones are wondering this so I will just put them at ease. She is a babe.

4. Go all in– There will be many times in your future in which you will question God and His plan. You will be glad that you stuck with His will. Go all in. Don’t give half or even a small part of yourself to your call. He will bless you and your family if you do so. Obviously your family will be your first ministry, and being a father will be your most rewarding pastorate… Don’t give up.

5. Stop worrying– You are such a wimp when it comes to worrying about your future. Stop it. I can be that blunt with you because I am you. You will give countless hours to the artful craft of concern when, in actuality, it will earn you nothing. So, when you feel an anxiety episode coming on…remember that the one who created the universe can handle your puny little problems. I know that sounds harsh, but I have skin in the game here pal.

All in all, you are doing all right kid. Keep on desiring to draw close to God and you will never regret it. There are going to be really tough times, but make sure that your suffering is never wasted or lost in the sea of bitterness. Don’t forget to kiss your wife and kids every day too.  They need you.

Good luck! Oh…and put down that doughnut please.

-Landon DeCrastos