Do you remember that song by Baz Luhrman, addressing the Class of 1999? It was a compilation of great pieces of advice to a high school graduating class, and I loved it. It started out like this:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.

I had teenagers at the time it was released, and I had enough of the gifts of hindsight and life experience to know that every piece of that advice was solid.

Now, another sixteen (SIXTEEN?!) years down the road, I possess quite a bit more of those (ahem) gifts. Amazing, the clarity derived from a glance back, yes? The things that seemed like such a good idea at the time, find you shaking your head twenty years later, wondering why in the world you couldn’t see what a train wreck you were walking into, when it is perfectly clear from where you sit now.

Yesterday, I heard a piece of advice given to a high school-aged character on the show Parenthood. It was so simple, but was one of the best pieces of advice I think I’ve ever heard.

Life is gonna knock you down more times than you can imagine, so don’t knock yourself down.

I wish that was a piece of advice we all heeded in our early years, and the cutting off of our own feet was a thing of the past. But it’s not, is it? The sad thing is, many of us don’t think we do. We plug along, wondering why things don’t get better, or why bad things seem to hit at every turn, and sometimes it’s just the reality of life, having nothing to do with us. But other times, we are so self-deprecating. We call ourselves names (“Idiot!” Anyone?), not putting ourselves out there for something better because we don’t believe we can, or have the qualifications, or are even good enough to be considered. Much of the time we don’t even believe we deserve it, so we knock ourselves down before life has a chance to and then wonder why things never improve.

That’s not God’s idea of abundant living for us, you know. Not by a long shot. He made us – you and me – in His image to live through. To do great things in His name and in His strength. We can believe that we can do a thing, because He can do it. The only qualification we need is to be His. God’s plan will prevail, so if we’re constantly holding ourselves back, you’ve got to wonder what amazing things God’s going to do through someone else that He had planned for us.

So, take that piece of advice, even if, like me, you are well past your teenage years. Don’t knock yourself down; instead, let God hold you up. Then stand back and be amazed at what happens.

Oh, and wear sunscreen. For real.

Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. ~ Galatians 2:20 MSG

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you… ~ Isaiah 43:4 ESV