Maybe it’s because I’ve reached the point where I’m eligible for a senior citizen discount at some retail establishments. Or possibly because the job I have involves sitting behind a desk for a majority of the day. Whatever the reason I have an increasing regard for the zest I see in the lives of many young people. I feel this strange combination of admiration and humor when I hear one of them use the term “YOLO.” Said with enthusiasm, it may be the challenge given to the more reserved to step out of a comfort zone or perhaps the confident justification of the more adventurous relating the details of some daring exploit completed near the border between heroic and crazy. YOLO—You Only Live Once. I appreciate the sentiment. Life is short and tomorrow is not promised to us. Quite frankly, I’m often reminded of opportunities I have missed over the years because I didn’t set aside my fears in order to meet a challenge head on. Sadly, many of those opportunities were like the rare sighting of a comet or some other such spectacle which presented itself momentarily and will not be seen again in my lifetime. YOLO—indeed!
There is, however, a concern I have that this valuable outlook is sometimes shortsighted in its presentation. I believe YOLO is just the abbreviated acronym of a much larger truth, one that reaches further and is more crucial. I’m convinced the term should really be YOLOATTJ—You Only Live Once And Then The Judgment. I know, it doesn’t roll off the tongue like YOLO. In fact it looks much too difficult to even pronounce, but then, whole-truths are never quite as easy as half-truths. Too often I have seen YOLO presented as a justification for some irresponsible action or behavior. Something like, “Come on. You don’t have to tell your fiancé where we’re going. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. YOLO!” Or, “You should just buy that big screen TV. So what if you don’t have the money—just charge it. YOLO!”
There is truth in the YOLO philosophy, but truth is an interesting specimen. In a court of law, each witness lays a hand on the Bible and swears to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” That’s because truth is an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s not enough to embrace one truth. That would be like watching one scene in a movie and thinking you’ve just seen the entire film. You haven’t embraced truth unless your quest is for the whole truth. Also, one truth can be peddled as part of a broader lie, which is like adding sugar to a bowl of mud and believing you’ve mixed up a batch of brownies. To discover the whole truth, you have to reject all lies—even the ones seasoned with a pinch of truth. The “just a dash of truth” pitfall is why we have to be careful with this YOLO mantra. Using this truth to justify traveling down the road called “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” is a recipe for destruction and disappointment. Oh, the truth is in there, but it’s like sugar in the bowl of mud. The sweetness quickly fades and we’re left holding a pan of dirt.
It is true that life is short and opportunities often pass never to return. We must grasp that reality if we are going to make our days on this earth count for something. Take a risk. Push aside the fears that you’ll fail and dare to make a difference in the world. But remember: what you sow you will also reap. The works you plant in this natural realm will bear fruit in the eternal realm. It would be wise to frame your plans and purposes with these truths:
- Psalms 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
- Hebrews 9:27 “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”
- Romans 14:12 “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself unto God.”
YOLO…ATTJ Guest Blog by Ron Jennings
Arleen Jennings is the author of:
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