12 Things I Wish I Knew at 25

For my 50th birthday this past week I decided that it would be a lark to Tweet the 12 Things I Wish I Knew at 25.  Or rather, things that had I either known them (or, more accurately, followed them) would have made my life a lot easier, and saved me a lot of heartache.  Some are bits of advice that wisdom figures have told me during my Jesuit training and that took years to sink in. Others are the result of some hard knocks. A few are insights from the great spiritual masters that I've adapted for my own life. (Here's a confession: I often imagine my older self meeting my younger self and saying some of these things--especially Number One.)  It was also fun trying to boil them down into the requisite 140 characters for Twitter.  In any event, maybe some of them will help a 25-year-old you know.  Maybe one or two will help you!  Here they are.

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Winifred Holloway
8 years ago
I love  your list, Fr. Jim.  Especially the one suggesting " you are not God, this is not heaven and don't be a jerk."  Really good advice for bloggers.
8 years ago
I appreciate Fr. Jim's desire to help with this list, but it's really nothing more than a reflection of his own life.  Given that he left the corporate world for the Church and was blessed with various talents and smarts, how easy it is to say, "don't worry," "be your best self," "follow your deepest desires."  These are the words that we hear from celebrities, their followers exemplified by those devastated youngsters in tears after their failed auditions on "American Idol" and other such talent shows.

Father started with words from Jesus (and a mere parenthetical reference!).  It would have been better if he had continued in that mode: Deny yourself.  Pray as in "The Lord's Prayer."  Pray that life on earth will be as it is in Heaven.  Live according to God's will, not your own deep desires (pssst...they're oftentimes different). 

Young people need a reality check and clear direction, not idealistic platitudes from the privileged.


Carolyn Disco
8 years ago
Oh dear, Michael Brooks, isnt't that a bit harsh? Perhaps you and Fr. Jim are saying the same thing in different languages.
Fr. Jim has the gift of translating Scriptural truths into an idiom that resonates in today’s world, thus achieving wider currency. Fr. Thomas Keating does the same thing in bringing Cassian’s message into understandable relevance in the contemplative prayer movement.
This is an age of psychology, and marrying the insights of psychology and religion, of psyche and soul, is most apt. As a recent septuagenarian (o-h  m-y  G-o-d), I assure you the 12 things Fr. Jim writes are just as applicable at 70 as 50 years of age.
The first thing Fr. Jim wrote is “stop worrying,” with deliberate allusion to Jesus.
The second thing, about being yourself, is a way of embracing God’s will in placing you in this family, this circumstance, in which to work out our relationship with ourselves and Him.
The most impressive Jesuit I ever came to know, who spoke eight languages, was an extraordinary scholar and human being, said in his elder years that all his erudition and prayer came down to one insight: self-acceptance. God knows better than we what our needs are, and the raw material He bestows is for our ultimate benefit, no matter how strong our desire to acquire a different set of tools. Fr. Jim’s new-agey, homey, platitudinous thoughts are in fact most profound in calling us to our genuine vocation.
Skipping ahead to #5:  “Your deepest, most heartfelt desires are God's desires for you.” Of course they are. Any desires different from those of God are lesser by their very nature.
Well, that’s the gist of it as I see it. Thanks, Fr. Jim.
8 years ago
Hi Crystal -

I know my delivery could use some softening.

Modern psychology has dispensed with the concept of evil, even, apparently, in Father Jim's mind.  I understand why that is appealing to people; how nice that all we have to do is succumb to our innermost desires, because they are all good because they come from God.  It's nothing like what Christ taught us, though, including how to pray. 

I think the list has a rather adolescent perspective to it: self-absorbed, ignores right and wrong, dispenses with personal responsibility.  Young people have this perspective already; they need to get beyond that.  My number 2 would be:  Figure out how you're going to make a living so you don't become a burden to others.

Beth Cioffoletti
8 years ago
I thought that they were going to be cheesy, Jim - but I like them all!  Thanks, and Happy 50th Birthday and Happy New Year!
8 years ago
Really good advice.  At 25 most your future is ahead of you and you are so worried about what will happen  that it is hard to focus on what is really important.  The next 25 years slowly reveal what Fr. Martin has pointed out and even then most of us don't get there.

Thanks and I am going to pass them all along to all my friends.
8 years ago
I am only 13 months behind you to reach the mid century mark Father Jim so the list resonates. I will share it with my teenagers as well as with those of our generation too.

In particular liked the simplicity of #4:

''Remember three things and save yourself lots of unneeded heartache: You’re not God. This ain’t heaven. Don’t act like a jerk.''

With god's grace, I look forward to reading your list of ''12 things I wish I knew at 50'' on your 75th birthday.

Thanks for all of your great work and Happy Birthday to you . Ad multos annos!

Bill Mazzella
8 years ago
Nice job, Jim. Your good will is a beacon to everyone. And there is the poingnant hymn attributed to Francis which captures the essence of the beatitudes all year long.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life, let me bring
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal


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