…Future Me is setting the DeLorean dashboard destination time to Dec 24 1987 (PM) 3:30.
There are 29 things I’d like to communicate to Past Me to save from myself. While I don’t need to get Tracy to the Sigma Pi Orchid Ball on time so our daughters can be born or anything like that, there are a few things that might save a bit of hassle. So, cue Huey Lewis & the News “Back in Time” and know that the two fiery tire tracks have sent me to the Hoover Square 6 Theaters parking lot…
29. Turn off the television in the background when you’re proposing in about half an hour. While it’s a cute story having George Harrison’s “Got My Mind Set On You” MTV video providing the soundtrack to that moment, maybe have a better sense of decorum.
28. Use the phrase “I don’t have a particular preference, so choose the one you like the best and I’ll be happy” rather than “I don’t care” when choosing bath towels and place settings and groom’s cakes and such. Fiances apparently think your words mean specific things.
27. Look at the puppy’s feet when choosing the cutest one at the humane society. She’s gonna grow into them. Also, don’t take your secretary’s word for it when she told the clerk it was a boy, and even though the paperwork says “male” she’s gonna roll over a few days later and you won’t have girl dog named Buford.
26. Even if you and your 38-weeks pregnant wife are tired, go ahead and put gas in the car the night before so you won’t have to do it at 3AM when her contractions are four minutes apart.
25. Maybe keep the thoughts on how tired and uncomfortable you are in the labor room to yourself. Also, after 18 hours, your comments on the machine’s measurement of the contractions’ intensity or lack of cable sports channels aren’t really appreciated, either.
24. Labor & delivery is a surgical procedure. People will give you a romantic notion of how beautiful it is but they’re all pumping sunshine. The wonder comes when the nurses hand you a cleaned-up burrito-wrapped baby and you feel like your heart will explode when they put them in your arms.
23. Measuring the nursery wallpaper border incorrectly results in a smooshed teddy bear in one corner. You aren’t good at math. Let her handle that.
22. All those things you talked about at the top of Reunion Tower in Dallas about what our ministry life would be like? You were pooling ignorance.
21. Your first home will have so much life because all the Campus Life students that come over all the time. Remind them that ONLY when front curtains are open they’re welcome to come in without knocking. If you aren’t clear on that, well, it can be embarrassing for both newlyweds and students.
20. Trust your wife more early on in spiritual decision-making. Remember when you fasted for lunch for a week before making one major decision and when you told her your thoughts, she said, “I’ve known that for a week. I’ve just been waiting on you to get there because I didn’t want to influence your thinking.” She’s got a good feel for that stuff and it’ll save you a lot of hassle if you trust her.
19. Oh, yeah. Don’t listen to those well-meaning folks in church circles who tell you what your life should be like about praying together and giving you horrible devotional books for couples. Find your own rhythm and ignore their insights. It’ll save you both a lot of false guilt.
18. Dinner/bath/bedtime with toddlers is among the greatest times you will have. Don’t let punk rock you think otherwise.
17. Spoiler alert: Auburn is going to win the national championship in your lifetime. That will save you a lot of emotional disappointment from 1988-2009 wondering if the football gods are gonna answer that little prayer for your East Alabama college.
16. Leaving a ministry of students you love to go to seminary will be one of the hardest things you will ever do.
15. So will holding down three jobs and going to seminary with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. You will be exhausted most of that time but it’ll be well worth it.
14. It won’t get easier when you leave another group of students who endeared themselves to you to move across town. Those kids will change your life and ministry for the better. It’ll seem like you were there forever, but only a little over a year.
13. You’re going to see it all in ministry leaders you serve with: extreme legalism, financial mismanagement, sexual misconduct, philosophic differences, et al. Some you will handle better than others, but try to be more focused on Him. You will be hurt more deeply than you know by people who you think should know better. Thinking they’ll always be Spirit-led is an unrealistic expectation.
12. People will have strong opinions about you and your ministry, and they will somehow feel free to voice them in front of your wife and kids. A lot. Try to do a better job of shielding them from that because it will have longer lasting hurtful effects on them. You will get over them more easily because you develop a thicker skin. They will have a much tougher time.
11. Be a better student of your wife. There are some things you shouldn’t have to wait nearly three decades to discover. Hint: She’s an artist. Give her the space and freedom to develop that. How you missed that is beyond Future Me.
10. You’re going to love traveling the world. I know it’s the late 80’s but you’re gonna walk in Red Square. You’ll see Beirut. You’ll visit countries that aren’t even countries yet. You’ll walk in the Taj Mahal. You’ll also see the dark side of those places. Not bad for a kid that hasn’t been north of Nashville yet.
9. When the old dog starts to show age, get the apprentice so the old dog can show them to ropes. Your wife and daughters will be dog people, as we know that cats are the official pet of Hell.
8. You won’t regret being intentional about making memories with your family. Pike’s Peak. Lake Pend Oreille. New York City. Disney. San Francisco. Gulf Shores. And when you’re in those moments, be IN those moments. They will invent the Internet (don’t ask) and you’ll be able to work from anywhere. Don’t.
7. Hanging with your adult daughters as friends is so much fun. There are upsides and downsides to getting married young and having children young…but one major upside is being young enough to travel and hang out with them. The hard work of parenting children tends to pay off when you enjoy them so much as adults.
6. Everybody says to remember that your wife will be with you after the kids move out and to develop your marriage relationship all along the way. Take that seriously, because learning to date and such is more difficult in the Empty Nest than you think. So much happens in 22 years of child raising that you can lose focus. Again. Don’t.
5. You’re going to get a doctorate in 2020. It’ll be your wife’s idea, and it’ll set the stage for the last third of your life. Listen to her a lot sooner and maybe you’d be getting it next year instead of being only a third of the way through.
4. Pay attention when people ask you what you’d do if you weren’t in full-time ministry, because you’ll wind up doing that very thing when you aren’t. Again, be a better student of your wife. She was intuitive about these things and tried to tell you but you weren’t as active a listener as you could’ve been.
3. You will love living downtown and the new friends you make will become some of the best friends you’ve ever had, even though you’ve only lived here a little over a year.
2. Just so you know, your wife will still be striking with her beauty. You’ll think you’ve never seen anything more beautiful when she walked the aisle on your wedding day, but that woman will walk across a room in sweatpants and carrying laundry and she’ll take your breath away. She won’t even be trying and be stunning.
1. You will be loved more than you have loved. I wish I could tell you differently. Lesser women would’ve been gone long ago, and she’s still here and still enjoying the adventure. You will laugh a lot. You will smile at the future together. It will be an adventure. But you definitely get the better end of the deal, Holmes.
Well, the DeLorean’s “present time” setting is for Jul 16 2017 (am) 9:50 so that’s all your going to get.
One last thing: Tell her happy anniversary first thing every morning on this date. It’s the best decision you ever made.
*fiery tire tracks outside the Hoover Square Six Theater after 1.21 gigawatts hit the flux capacitor
** DeLorean flashes into view on Commerce Street in Dallas in front of Mitchell Lofts.