As many of you know, I have been on a long journey of discovering what life is truly about and who I really am. Four years ago this month was the day I had planned to give up on living – to walk away from all of the incredible blessings that I could not see.
[If you are in that place, I beg you read to 25 Loves Notes for Your Worst Day or A Letter to Anyone Who Feels Like Giving Up]
The truth is, while I still struggle, I have come a long, long way since then and I have seen my life transformed in ways I could have never imagined.
I have fed orphans in Haiti and sang praises to God for thousands of people in Zimbabwe. I ran a marathon and have chased a healthy lifestyle. I started a little blog that for some reason people keep reading. I’ve done crazy experiments like 26 Random Acts of Kindness and spent 30 days helping people during the How Can I Help Project. I’ve made friends with homeless people. I’ve restored relationships with my incredible family, kept friendships with the most amazing high school friends a guy could ask for and found a whole new church family that endlessly pours into me.
I have spent the last four years mentoring two incredible tenth grade guys, I’ve played on worship teams, helped start a church kids choir, helped teach a junior high bible study, 5th and 6th grade Sunday school, and a high school small group.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach music to over 620 incredible students every week. I’ve won two grants for a class set of African drums and a class set of ukuleles. I started an all-district choir that is pretty much the greatest thing ever. I finished my Master’s degree.
I am writing a book.
I share all of these crazy things with you not to brag, but to give you hope. To encourage you to never stop chasing the life you always imagined you would live and to respond myself what a beautiful journey I am on.
I am officially finished with 1/3 of the book and have started working with an incredible story editor. (Don’t worry, I still haven’t submitted a proposal to any publishers, that’s coming people). One of the central pieces of my book is a document of 13 things I’ve learned about living fully alive. These incredible words hang by my bed and I read them every morning to remind myself exactly who I am and who I want to be.
I thought it would be awesome to share with all of you beautiful people and see what you think. So without further adieu, I am proud to present:
The Recklessly Alive Manifesto
1 Give this life everything you have and never look back.
Consistently make decisions that bring you to life. Stop making destructive choices that lead to fleeting happiness and endlessly pursue a legacy that is recklessly alive. Jump in the freezing water. Get on the plane to Africa. Make friends with a homeless man. Don’t sit out and watch everyone live it up, shake your groove thing. Be fun and goofy and spontaneous. Live a life filled with wonder and adventure.
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2 Your Time is Now!
Stop wasting your time on things that don’t matter. You have one, precious chance to make a difference in this broken world. Stop letting fear of the unknown keep you from the life you always imagined yourself living. Refuse to be a person of “some days” or “I wish I would have’s” and make it happen. Your time is now.
3 Just Be You
You, my friend are a stud so shake off all the false fronts of who everyone says you should be and just be you. Every mistake and wrong turn is a valuable chance to discover who you are not. No, you are not here by accident. You were chosen by a perfect heavenly father who loves you more than you will ever comprehend; you were fearfully and wonderfully made on purpose for a purpose. Spend time every day discovering why you’re here and then chase those passions with all of your heart, your achy breaky heart.
4 Your Story is Your Greatest Asset
Be authentic and vulnerable about the work God is doing in your life and let God use your pain to help the people around you. When asked about why you believe in God, have an answer ready. Better yet, have a story, a book even of how far your life has come since choosing to live like Jesus. If God gives you an opportunity to share your story, show courage and share your whole story with your whole heart. Vulnerability is sexy. Keep telling everyone the reason for the hope that you have – your story is your greatest asset.
5 Only God Knows What is TRUEST About You
Some days you have to put on your headphones and shut the world out. Everyone has an opinion about your looks, your voice, your athleticism (or lack thereof), your income, your friends, how you spend your time, who you vote for. None of that is part of your true identity. Listen to who God says you are, not anyone else. Only God knows what is truest about you. Stand tall and be proud of the incredible person He created you to be. His opinion is the only one that matters.
6 Put Your Relationship with God above any earthly relationship.
Stop. Be still. Every day. Every week. Make time to slow down and listen to God’s gentle voice that hides beneath the noise. Let him speak to you in a song, in a journal, through His word. Stay in touch with your soul by quieting the world on a regular basis. Put your relationship with God above any earthly relationship.
7 Slow the Down
See, truly see the clues of God’s boundless love in a blooming flower, a cascading melody, an enduring friendship. The signs of his infinite love are everywhere but most people rarely stop to notice them. Never be in such a hurry towards tomorrow that you miss how beautiful the world is this very second. Stop wishing for the next life milestone or the next big break and enjoy this perfectly imperfect gift of time.
8 Be Crazy and Take Care of Yourself
Live a life balanced life with a healthy dose of recklessness and responsibility – ace a test and skip a class. Go on a crazy road trip and spend a quiet night with your bible. Eat the life-changing piece of sinful chocolate cake and go for a run. Be crazy and take care of yourself. And floss for heaven’s sake.
9 This World Needs You
Never give up on God’s people. Never tire of doing all the incredible things God has prepared for you to do, even when people persecute you or mock the way you’re living. Never stop helping them and showing them grace and kindness. God calls us to love the unlovable and yes sometimes that kinda blows. Love them anyway. This world desperately needs you to come alive and will always need you to be the very best person you can be.
10 Be Frugal and Give Recklessly
The universe will never stop its attempts to convince you that what you have isn’t enough and they couldn’t be more wrong. Be frugal so that you can give to the lowest of the low. Helping someone in need will always feel infinitely better than the latest gadget. Choose to be responsible with your money so you can be reckless with your giving.
11 Love With EVERYTHING YOU HAVE
Move towards people and don’t pull away from those who really love you. You are not invincible – you need people as much as they need you. Everyone comes into our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime so love those around you with everything you have. Tell them how you feel about them over and over and over. Overuse the four most powerful words: thank you, I’m sorry, I love you, and I forgive you. You were created to love.
12 Happiness is a Choice
Be the light, rock star. Show this world riddled with chaos and despair that hope is always possible, no matter how terrible things seem. Be that light everyday that you are alive through an unreserved smile or healthy dose of reckless laughter. Compliment those around you. Call out life in others every chance you get. Every second you have the ability to brighten someone’s day: take it. Life can get so heavy – let it all go and smile in gratitude for the infinite blessings you do have. Happiness is a choice and the choice is always in your hands.
And when you hit rock bottom, be brave enough to get back up. Do whatever it takes to get out of bed and rise above every painful day. Those times will come. They always come, but you’re stronger than the darkness. It’s never too late to turn it all around, to start over and choose to be a completely different person. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you, this very moment. Rise my friend.
So… what do you think of the manifesto? What would you add? Leave a comment below!
So, what are you waiting for. Now is your time people. Live with everything you have. This life is a precious gift that most people waste by complaining and existing. Be different. Set yourself apart. Never give up on an incredible life because it’s out there and it’s waiting for you.
Check out these songs and more in my Spotify Playlist – Recklessly Alive.