My Life Began At 18

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

Many years ago in a college fellowship, we invited an old lady who’s got terminal cancer to share her life story to us. I remember nothing out of her 1 hour sharing, except it was kinda funny that I only remembered the first half of her first sentence. She said, “When I was 20 years old…” I flipped when I heard her start sharing her story when she was 20. What happened to the first 19 years? I was in my early twenties at that time, and that was probably the first time I heard an elderly person share the entire story of one’s life. But if I were to share my story at the time, I would start sharing about when I was 4 years old. I would never have started at 20.

Fast forward to today, and now I’m in my late thirties. If you ask me to share my life story today, I would start when I was 18 years old. Why? Because looking back, nothing tangible really mattered before I was 18. Before 18, I did not make any life-changing decisions. Before 18, I made a lot of good friends who influenced me, but they themselves had very little experience in life and their influences on me were short-lived. But also, at 18, I really really had to be independent and live by myself in the US. At 18, I accepted Christ and began a new spiritual life. At 18, my minds and ears were opened to this whole wide world.

But I’m not saying I wasted my life growing up. I believe that everyone’s upbringing prepared oneself to face the world, the real world. Most of my preferences, my ambitions, my tendencies, my little annoyances, my attitudes, even most of my beliefs, were formed before I was 18. Whether I see the world through optimistic or pessimistic lens was determined before I was 18. But then, I did not really “do” anything significant or meaningful before 18. At 18, my life was really still a blank sheet of paper.

My thoughts go to our baby Chase who will be arriving in this world in a few weeks. As a parent, my job will be to shape this little guy to face the real world. But while doing that, I know that he will make for himself his own world that’s different from mine. He will likely start his real life when he leaves us and become completely independent from us. Knowing that, I will not really be too eager for him to grow up, but I can also relax about any failures I might make on the way as a parent. I won’t really need to say “my kid can do this” kind of things.

Lord, thank you for giving me the joy of walking this journey of life and help me to pass this joy to future generations.