If You Had to Do It Over…

April 30, 2010

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do?

Hindsight is always 20/20, and I think this is one of the most common questions people ask themselves.  What would they do if they knew everything they do now?  Would they live their lives exactly the same way?  Would they choose different careers, or live somewhere else, or take more risks, or not get involved in that pyramid scheme?

Of course, people always look at the big picture.  What if you had your whole life to do over again?  They never ask, what if I had to do this week over again?  That’s kind of funny, since our lives are made up of a whole bunch of weeks we’d probably not want to re-live.  Just this week at school, I broke up a fight, was spit on, cursed and yelled at, hit and kicked, and physically carried five children where they needed to go.  Such is the memorable life in the behavioral disorders department.  Would I re-live the week?  No.  But I’d have to in order to do my life over again.

Anyway, in the spirit of another week gone by, I ask you: what if you had to do it over again?

Me?  I’d do a lot of things…

I’d be a food critic. 

I like teaching, and I’m following a calling that I love by being a pastor.  But I figure being a food critic would be a perfect job.  Eat food, which I do all the time, and nit-pick it.  My wife and I do this already.  I’d just like to get paid to give a restaurant my opinion.  How could you hate your job if you were a food critic?

Wife:  “How was work today, dear?”

Me:  “Worst day of my life.  You’d think these idiots didn’t even know what sea scallops with black truffle oil was!  Then, the creme brulee was just the icing on the cake.  What a terrible experience.  I could’ve gotten a better meal by statching an egg salad sandwich from a constuction site lunchpail.”

Exactly.  Even a bad day as a food critic is still…well…a day as a food critic.

I’d be hard to get.

It’s a known fact that when a boy likes a girl, he becomes immune to any of the advice of friends, brothers or dads, all of whom have been in his shoes.  This, invariably, leads him to make himself look like a pathetic lost dog and a complete weiner in the quest to win the affections of the girl.  Boys just have to learn by failing for themselves.

I don’t know how girls do it.  How are so many of them born with an innate instinct to play “hard to get,” to ignore boys?  Why are boys left with only their leftover hunter-gatherer instincts from our caveman days?  The only thing boys have an instinct for is persistence.

Caveman: “Mammoth look tasty.  I get mammoth, bring home…Mammoth awfully big…need more spears and rocks…I try again.”

Boy with crush: “Girl look good.  I get girl, make her like me…Girl no pay attention to me…need more gifts and jokes…I try again.”

Eventually, boys learn that girls like guys with spines…Sadly this is never learned in time.  Those of you girls who don’t know how to play hard to get, I suggest you learn.  There’s no point in throwing yourself at someone you like.  It’s just not feminine.  It’s definately a guy thing.

I’d say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ a lot faster.

If you think I’m the type of guy who doesn’t get his toes stepped on by others and speaks his mind all the time, then congratulations to me, for I have tricked you.  It’s all a rouse.  I’m actually very mild mannered.

There’d be a lot of people I’d say ‘No’ to a lot faster.  Starting with that bully in middle school, and going right up to that client who hired me to create a terrible design idea.  I’d learn that being a pastor isn’t about saying “Yes” to everyone.  I’d be telling people ‘No’ when I meant it…immediately. 

But I’d also say ‘Yes’ a lot faster.  Since I was a little kid, I was stubborn, and my parents struggled to get me to do anything I didn’t want.  There was the day at the pool when a thunderstorm was rolling in, but my mother wouldn’t let us leave until I had jumped off the (low) diving board.  I would’ve done that a lot sooner in hindsight, and a lot more things too that ended up being good for me.

But to be honest, I really wouldn’t change all that much.  I’d still do all the things I did, because I value the relationships that came out of all the places I’ve been.  I’d still go a Christian college I didn’t really like, transfer out, go to seminary, be a pastor, marry my wife, write a blog, and be totally awesome.  Things have a funny way of working out.

But I’m still young and relatively naive.  What about you?  What would you do if you had it all to do over?

15 responses to If You Had to Do It Over…

  1. I’d do high school all over again. I’d be the coolest guy. I wouldn’t spend so much time liking the girls that didn’t go anywhere and ended up with a broken heart. So much time and energy wasted on those couple of girls. I wouldn’t care what others thought of me because almost 11 years after high school, those things are so far from even being slightly important.

    At the same time, I’d do a better job of building better relationships with my close friends now. We’re close, but I know we could be a lot better if I wasn’t such a borderline personality kind of guy.

    Spiritually, the whole year I was in 11th grade I doubted my salvation and was so scared I’d die in my sleep and go to hell. If I would have known that I wasn’t going to die that year, I could have lightened up a little. But still, I wouldn’t have changed that year. It got me thinking a lot of God and has played a part in who I am now. I can honestly say I’m not a jerk to someone who says they’re having trouble grasping salvation or God or anything else pertaining to Christianity.

    I wouldn’t have dated until later. I didn’t have my first g/f until I was 17, but I should have waited. Because now bumping into 2 or 3 of those girls before my wife is awkward.

    Finally, I would have destroyed the T-800 in Terminator Salvation so as to make sure he wouldn’t be able to go back in time and threaten my mom and dad.


  2. If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t have taken that porn video from my friend Will when I was 15 and watched it. I would have listened to the Christian friends in high school telling me about Jesus rather than mocking them for their mistakes. I would have listened to teachers who told me to chase my dreams of being a writer rather than feeding my giant ego by going into radio.

    In other words, I’d change everything because my life’s been one painful experience after another thanks to the mistakes of my youth.

    • Wow! Thanks for being so honest and raw, here. It sounds like you are still grieving over your past mistakes. I would encourage you however, not to allow your past to dictate who you are in Christ, now. God promises us this, “He works ALL things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Even the mistakes we made in our past before we came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If you have repented of your past, you are forgiven! “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Praying you will find rest in His promises… -M

    • I hear you, man. The things we do when we’re young and know everything. You’ve got to know that you aren’t alone on any of the mistakes you’ve ever made.

  3. I’d stop working a couple of years earlier when mom was still healthy, and spend more time taking her places and doing stuff with her while she could still get around.

  4. Great question – at just about 52 I have a few thoughts.

    I wish I had punched Jacob Smith in the face in 5th grade insteadow waiting until 10th.

    I would have not wasted time on dating! I would have just shown up on Mary Anne’s doorstep to ask her father for her hand when I was 14. She’s the besting thing that has ever happened to me relationally.

    Career wise I would have stuck with computer programming in 1972 when I had my first class in high school instead of going on to music school, art school, teaching and doing carpentry. Instead I waited until 1994.

    Spiritually I wish I had met folks with more character than I did. It caused me some desert time trying to avoid stupid religious people. I wish I had done more missions trip and bought less stuff.

    Politically I wish Ronald Regan was still in office.

    I wish I never sold my 1968 Shelby GT-500KR or my 1959 Strat or Les Paul.

    I am glad that Jesus redeems the time.

  5. if i had to do it all over i would:
    -have finished college.
    -have not smoked

  6. I can’t change a thing and I wouldn’t. My experiences, positive and negative, have shaped me into the Christian/Husband/Father/Pastor that I am today. Are there things about myself that I don’t like? Absolutely! But those are areas of potential growth and areas where God can say to me, “Trust Me for grace and forgiveness.” Are there dumb choices I made where others were hurt by my actions? Of course! But again, if I did them over, I might not have grown and they might not have grown, either. If I knew then what I know now, I might not be where I am today. I am the pastor of a great church. I am the father of an awesome 3 1/2 year old. I am the husband of a lovely young woman. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t change any of those things or the steps along the journey that have brought me here.

  7. The one thing I would change is the one thing I am STILL struggling with… loving Jesus MORE than I love myself.

  8. God bless the broken road that led me straight to here!

    But….since you’re asking. I would not have commuted to college just to be near my girlfriend for that first year (’84-’85) Instead I would go to Liberty University to study His Word and befriend Toby McKeehan, Kevin Max Smith and Michael Tait. The rest would be history. I would make sure I still met my wife sometime around 1993 though.

  9. I’ve been sent a copy of Pete Wilson’s new book “Plan B” to review. As I read through it, I’m having a REALLY hard time relating to the topic (basically, what to do when your life doesn’t go according to your plan) because, while it maybe didn’t happen like I expected, I can’t imagine life being much better than it is right now. Oh, there are some bells and whistles that would be nice, but really, I’ve got everything I could possibly want and then some.

    And as much as I’m embarrassed about my past mistakes, as much as I regret some of my choices…I also see those things as having brought me to where I am right now. And I don’t regret THAT at all.

  10. I wouldn’t have broken the law when I was just a few months over legal age. After that, it’s hard to say, because each time you changed something, the events that followed would be different.

    I can’t decide whether or not I would have majored in Journalism. I still think I’m a born writer. But the fact that I am in one of the lowest demand fields right now makes me wish in hindsight I had chosen differently.

  11. In exactly 7 days and a few hours, I’ll be graduating from a college that I never wanted to go to. Up until about a year ago, I would probably have wished more than anything in the world that I could have gone somewhere else, because my pride told me I deserved better. Thankfully I’ve been humbled enough to understand that this was right for me.

    However…I would absolutely change the way I treated my parents when I was in high school. We have a good relationship now, but I should have made more of an effort while I still saw them every day.

  12. Well, the road I took to teaching through my studies(Aerospace Engineering-History) and my jobs (Teaching-unemployed-oilfield engineering-civil engineering) taught me so much that to be honest, I don’t think I would exactly give those experiences away. However, I could do two things over…

    (1) Allow myself to slip into a state of semi-depression when I was doing those jobs between teaching. I don’t know how I’d go about doing it, but when I talk about those days it’s almost all what I did and now how I felt doing them, because I felt so crummy then.

    (2) Decide to try to get into dating long before I did. Had I had a couple of stabs at relationships before a year ago, I wouldn’t have been so naieve and been a little too honest, which gave an unforgettable girl the excuses she was looking for to put a surefire great relationship on indefinite hiatus. Even if I ignore the joy that the potential relationship would have given me, the long term moroseness I’ve been in since then would probably be mitigated.

  13. I would never buy again buy underwear that are seconds from the factory.