by Jayne Kotter
Years before it was popular to say, Dear Younger Me, I had three amazing women in my life at different times, in addition to being raised by parents who put Jesus first, and being surrounded by God-loving aunts and uncles and family members.
My first mentor (though I only thought of her as an older friend) once said, “I wish someone had told me to stay focused on Jesus—only on the important things.” She paused before continuing, “Well, truth be told, they did, but I was young, hardheaded, and wanted my own way.” Then she pointed at me and laughingly said, “Don’t be like me! Listen to the wise people God places in your life and, no matter what, choose His way, not what you want His way to be!”
Throughout the conversation before she gave me that adamant advice, it struck me how truly remorseful she was—the deep regret that there was no way to get back to the past to make it right. But now, she pursued what is right whole-heartedly, and that’s good; but it would never change the past. She just had to keep that in the hands of the Lord.
I didn’t want that kind of regret. I had lots of good examples of how to do it right and please the heart of God, but I also had lots of examples of how to gratify the flesh.
So, one day I was praying that God would bless my efforts; there were things I wanted to do. They weren’t bad things, but it was not what God was calling me to do. I wasn’t waiting to hear back from the Lord. I was forging ahead doing what I wanted His will to be.
God forgive me—but, to this day, I still struggle with doing what I want God’s will to be. However, her words come back to me often: “No matter what, choose His way, not what you want His way to be!”
Another woman always showed grace no matter what was going on. When I complimented her on that, she told me part of her testimony, letting me know that it wasn’t just part of her personality that she developed but a character quality from Jesus that she prayed to receive. She didn’t strive to achieve it, only obeyed the Lord to walk it out every day. She was also a great example of not letting one’s self or emotions get in the way of what Jesus wants to do—things she wished she’d known earlier in life.
Another mentor and dear friend lost all four of her children to the same disease, but there’s a common phrase she’s remembered by: “Will you be bitter or better?” The Lord wants to make us better no matter what bad or good things are going on, whether we’re in a terrible storm of grief or in the sunshine of a beautiful mountain garden. Will we be bitter that our garden isn’t as wonderful as someone else’s or that our grief is unfair, or will we let the Lord make us better?
I don’t make perfect choices. There are things I wish I was much better at accomplishing, and I do have some regrets. But, taking seriously the heart-felt, godly words of those who obey Christ Jesus has prevented deeper regrets. I’m older now than my friend was when she said, “No matter what, choose His way, not what you want His way to be!” She spoke to a girl who thought she was a woman, and I think she’d be pleased to know I took her advice to heart and follow her example in sharing of self. I know she pleased the heart of God, willing to be vulnerable and used by Him.