“A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” Proverbs 10:1
On February 12, 2013, exactly 6 years ago today, our then 10-year-old son, Cole wrote a letter to his “future self,” to be delivered to him exactly 6 years in the future. That letter arrived today, February 12, 2019, to his now 16-year-old “self.”
Below is my log entry written on Feb. 12, 2013, 6 years ago, explaining the circumstances that led to the letter, as well as a copy of the letter he received today from his 10-year-old “past self.”
Our children are so often the vessels through which the Lord chooses to teach us the most. Lord, help us to pay attention.
February 12, 2013
“What a man sows, that shall he reap.” Gal. 6:7
How we handle our “todays” is a great indicator of what we will face in our “tomorrows.”
Cole’s assignment was to complete a mini essay on what kind of changes he wanted to see in his community, and how he could personally contribute to these changes. The concepts he chose were lofty, and this made the writing assignment even more difficult and lengthy than it had to be. As 3 o’clock rolled around, I could see his little heart becoming troubled and his eyes beginning to fill with tears. He still had significant work to do to finish. When I saw how upset he was becoming, I presented him with the option of stopping and picking up the work the following day. “I know I told you to finish today, but it’s getting late and you seem too upset to think clearly.” I told him.
Cole responded by saying, “No, Mom, I don’t want to quit! If I give up now, my future self will hate me!”
WOW! His words affected me profoundly. How clever! How wise!
Not many days later, while the kids were eating breakfast, I told them that I wanted their help today because we were having guests arriving. I told each child they’d need to clean their rooms and tidy the basement together after school, and before doing anything fun.
Cole immediately responds with the words, “I so love my past self!”
“What?” I asked.
Cole answered saying, “I already completely cleaned my room yesterday; and Maya and I kept the basement pretty clean this week. I am so happy. Yep, I love my past self!”
That night, while lying in bed, I kept thinking how so many of my life’s difficulties have had to do with bad choices “my past self” made. No one else but ME in the past – “MY past self!”
There is perhaps no teaching I would want my children to understand more than the teaching my son was presently teaching me: The consequences of self-choices – how our pasts affect our futures.
Several days past and my mother, that’s “Nanna” to the kids, came to visit for a cup a tea. The kids and I tried to get her to stay longer than she had planned, so we put a bit of a guilt trip on her to do so. She explained saying, “I really must get home because I have been procrastinating terribly in cleaning my house, and well, I’m overwhelmed, and if I don’t do it now….I mean, I really want to stay, but I can’t…Well, I can but, I really shouldn’t….”
And as she was standing at the door trying to get us to understand why she just couldn’t stay and visit, Cole interrupted with, “Nanna, we understand! You’ve got “your future self” breathing down your neck!”
Seriously? He’s a funny dude! Nanna loved it. And off she went, so that she, too, would not dislike her past self tomorrow.
Several months ago, Cole asked me if I thought he would grow up to be a foolish teenager and deny the ways of the Lord like so many other teenagers do.
I told him that I certainly didn’t know, but I hoped he wouldn’t. “I suppose even thinking such thoughts is a good sign that you might choose to be a little wiser than most,” I responded.
Because of all these talks about future self and past self, I decided to search “future-self” on the internet. I was just loving the spiritual and practical life implications of really thinking about these concepts, and I wanted to read more.
I found a website called future-me and it is a place where you can write a letter to yourself to be sent to your email on whatever date you choose in the future. I asked Cole if he wanted to do it. He said, “I would love to! It seems the closest thing we can get to time travel, don’t you think Mom? he asked.
That day, Cole wrote a letter through this website to his future self, set to arrive 6 years in the future. When he would be 16 years old. It was a letter that I wish I had received when I was 16 – or 26 – or 36 for that matter.
Here is that letter, which arrived today!
Written: February 12, 2013
Received: February 12, 2019
Cole, (written at age 10 – to be delivered at age 16),
Always remember to listen to your parents.
Don’t hang out with the wrong crowd even though it may seem fun.
Always remember that younger children, like your sisters, are watching you and looking up to you, so choose to be a good example and kind to them.
Take your schooling seriously, but don’t get stressed over it because it’s bad for your health. I mean it!!!!!
Always look to the Lord for help and never stop believing in Him.
My life at 10 years old is great! One reason it’s great is because I can swim at the DACC by myself – remember where you used to swim with Mom. I hope I can finish the 100 mile challenge this year. I have 94 miles to go yet to complete it.
I want you to remember that Mom and Dad love you very much. Mom never stops saying how much she extremely loves me. Leah and Maya are growing very fast, but not too fast. 🙂
I am relying on you to finish the job of our life well – a job I cannot finish by myself. Don’t give up being smart, kind, and loving to your sisters, parents, relatives, and the needy.
I hope you’ve done well not feeding off of other people’s fame. I know this is one of my own personal battles.
I like how the world is now – it’s a great place. Hopefully, it’s still a good place for you to live in now.
I am wondering also how you did with my 10-year-old plans to stop global warming. Please continue to stay healthy and perhaps stay in Danville unless God calls you elsewhere.
I also hope you (I) am still thinking of traveling the world. I’ve been thinking of visiting a place with exotic animals – like Africa, Australia. If we haven’t done that yet, perhaps keep it on your list of “to dos”. Save up maybe.
Don’t worry, I’ve been saving money for you.
I am choosing to send this to my future self at age 16 because I think 16 is one of the most vulnerable ages to be and to get attacked by ungodly influences.
Be sure to date girls who are devoted to God, because this may save you from future pain.
Don’t drink until you are 21 years old, Mom and Dad may give you a car just like my cousin T.R. got from his parents and my Mom got when she was young from Nanna and Pop.
Be sure to be kind to Nanna and Pop and Meme and Pepe, if they are still around, visit them often. If any of them have passed away, be sure to bring comfort to Mom and Dad about this and particularly to the ones who might be widows.
That’s Leah in the picture. I wanted you to remember what we looked like at age 10.
I gotta run now – I gotta go play cause I’m only 10.
Take care of us, I’m counting on you!
God’s greatest blessings,
Past Self – Cole age 10
…AS A RESULT, and PRESENTLY….
Cole is likely the most adored brother to his (now) three sister, as Annika was born after the letter was written. His encouraging way helped turned his three sisters into swimmers and won him the sportsmanship award his 10th grade year.
Cole’s grandfather, Pepe, passed away two years ago after having suffered for 22 years with Parkinson’s disease. In the last few years of Pepe’s life, Cole would come and play guitar and sing to his grandfather along with his sisters. Before his passing, Cole received a beautiful blessing regarding his future from his grandfather. Cole led worship at Pepe’s funeral to honor him and their time together. He also revealed himself as a man of great compassion in sorrow towards his own father, who had just lost his father, and to his grandmother, Meme, who is now widowed.
When Cole wrote that letter, at age ten, he had saved $200 for his future self. After doing a personal finance class with Dave Ramsey he decided to use most of it to start his own a college fund and has added to it ever since. Don’t worry son, Mom and Dad will help you too!
Son, you have already brought your father and me much joy. Continue to plant and tend the seeds God gives to you. We will continue to pray for you, as there are many traps and snares seeking to upend our souls in this life. Never think you can do this in your own strength or that you are better than other people. Remember, it is God alone who gives you wisdom and strength, and who can direct your path in the way of life. And most of all please do not forget that God is a merciful God, ever waiting to forgive us and fill us once again with His love. You are never far from His care. We are proud of you and the man you are BECOMING!
I wrote the following prayer in my journal, six years ago today.
I have been taught so much by my son in this season. Help me, Lord, to wait when you tell me to wait, and to do when you tell me to do. Help me to be diligent in the small things. I, too, want to appreciate “my past self” one day, so that “my future self” can bring me less pain and You all the more glory!