I wish I had been a better man – Desire without knowledge is not good— how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
Proverbs 19:2 (NIV)
I wish I had been a better man – As I look over the landscape of my life thus far, it’s easy to do a lot of wishing. Having made a few poor decisions that truly shaped my entire life, I believe it’s better to take time to acquire knowledge and wisdom rather than pressing forward without clarity. When we choose to push forward without knowledge and wisdom we risk making poor choices, forcing life in an unintended direction.
Recently, one of my high school friends wrote on his Facebook “I wish I would have been a better man!” In his post, he chronicled some of his failures. He talked of lost love, divorce and the pain of going through such an event. He said, “It took a long time to get past the hurt, emptiness and the pain!” His post really touched my heart, as I know that journey.
My friend and I were inseparable my junior and senior year of high school. We were crazy young men with dreams of making tons of money and dating hot women. We were always thinking of what we could do other than sweeping the floors in the local grocery store. Neither of us came from wealthy families and both of us had jobs as far back as I can remember.
As a young man, I clearly thought I knew it all. If I didn’t, I had an excuse for not knowing. I was confronted by various people throughout life that challenged my excuses and didn’t allow me to continue without truth in each situation.
Remaining mindful or aware and seeing wisdom in each situation throughout life is very difficult if you don’t have those around you that will question your decisions and direction. My friend refers to those relationships as “fans.” It’s very easy to align ourselves only with the people who will support us. If they don’t, we ultimately push them away.
I pushed away plenty of opportunities to grow in college. A coach confronted me about my excuses of not putting in the time to be better. Of course, I had an excuse and dismissed her confrontation. Some of my college friends would refer to me as “nitro” because of my reaction to things that got in my way; an indicator that I needed to mature in my responses.
In my marriage, I always had to be the “winner.” I could twist anything to have my desired outcome. (I am sure you have met those types of people before.) I concluded that if I was at least doing better than other marriages, all was good. But, I quickly found out that doing better wasn’t a good gauge of how I could better myself as a man.
One of my favorite movies is “Back to the Future.” In the movie, Marty McFly has a problem. He doesn’t like to be called “chicken.” So much so, that as the three-part movie series unfolds he realizes the cost of not choosing the high road. You see, like Marty McFly, it’s not in my nature to back down from any fight.
The reality of choosing not to back down cost me many years of joy. It wasn’t till everything in my life was stripped away; the wife, family, money, position, that I started to examine my choices, decisions, and failures to be a better man. That was the beginning of a new foundation for the man I am today.
Many of us are accepting much less than what God desires for us because we choose to view it in light of those before us, i.e. our parents, peers, famous couples. Or, we choose to make choices based on quick decisions without considering the potential consequences of future outcomes. Or, we let the fear of “missing out” drive the decisions in the wrong direction. None of these are acceptable if we want to continually grow. They are simply excuses to avoid the reality of what’s really happening.
It’s not in God’s nature to allow excuses because he is fully aware of what’s at stake and who you are designed to be. So to help us grow, he will allow our choices and the painful consequences change us for an eternal purpose and not for the momentary relief.
I love this quote by Michael Hyatt: “Whenever God gives you a vision, He places obstacles in your path. Why? So that you can become all that He created you to be. God doesn’t place these obstacles in your path to destroy you but to develop you. His greatest desire is to work out what he has built in.”
Our life is an opportunity to work out, what God has built into us.
Sometimes life can make us feel like we are a ball in a closed room bouncing from wall to wall without much control over the outcomes or direction. Our mindful choices with God’s help are really what makes the ball stop and gives us some control over the outcomes of our life.
Today I live in the realty that while I may have not been the best man I could have been, with God’s course correction, I am headed in the right direction. Something I continually remind myself of daily is “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.” Joyce Myers
And my friend, he is an incredible man and father. The self revelation is only one sign that there is so much working for and in him and that God is refining the old man. When his children look back they will appreciate the selflessness and awareness he has chosen.
Photo by Ben Sutherland