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Dear Younger Me
A Quick Music Discussion Guide for Parents
04/25/2017

Dynamic ImageThe Song: Dear Younger Me

Main Point: For good or bad, the decisions we make today forge who we become in the future. So, what advice would an older version of you give to you right now?

Vital Info Before You Get Started: The following info should help you contextualize this very popular song so you can have a great discussion about it with your kids.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: We at The Source for Youth Ministry believe that certain elements in our youth culture can serve as good discussion jump starters with students. At the same time, we would never hope to introduce teens to a negative influence that they haven’t already encountered. This balance is a delicate one. In our experience most teens, churched and unchurched, keep pretty current with music and music videos like this one. Thanks to YouTube, MTV.com, and iTunes, the most popular music videos and songs are free to access only a click away. If you decide to use this, do so by catering it to fit your family’s needs.

  • In this music video, viewers see several people holding cardboard signs set to the music of MercyMe’s song “Dear Younger Me.” Essentially, the video focuses on what these people would say to a younger version of themselves if that were possible. The genesis of this song goes back to singer Bart Millard’s very troubled life as a kid. The lyrics stem from him dealing with abuse as a child, how it affected him for so long, and what he wished he knew way back then.

  • This is a very powerful song, and the imagery in the video is also quite powerful. In fact, it would benefit your family to read through the lyrics BEFORE actually watching the music video. That way, everyone can absorb each element individually.

  • Don’t appear as if you have a “canned” discussion in your head and rattle off questions like a teacher giving a pop quiz—your kids get enough of that in school. This is a guide, primarily—not a verbatim script. Just familiarize yourself with the content here and start a conversation in the most natural, unforced way you know how.

The Song’s Lyrics:


Dear younger me
Where do I start
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far
Then you could be
One step ahead
Of all the painful memories still running thru my head
I wonder how much different things would be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

Dear younger me
I cannot decide
Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
Or do I go deep
And try to change
The choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
Even though I love this crazy life
Sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride
Dear younger me, dear younger me

If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
If I knew then what I know now
Would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

Dear younger me
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross
Dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed

Every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be
Dear younger me, dear younger me

You are holy
You are righteous
You are one of the redeemed
Set apart a brand new heart
You are free indeed [x3]


The Music Video:
The video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoO0kyPRu3M

Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):
    Q: How would you sum up the message in the song?
    A: Simply put, the song was about the advice the singer wished he’d known when he was younger. He thought it would help him avoid a lot of mistakes and pain.

    Q: In the song, the singer exclaimed, “If I knew then what I know now, condemnation would’ve had no power.” What does he mean by that?
    A: It means that defeat, loss, hurt, and heartbreak wouldn’t get the last word. Put another way, his faults and failures would not define him.

    Q: Why is it important to make good decisions at this point in your life?
    A: Because the decisions you make NOW affect the life you lead LATER. What you do during your teenage years deeply impacts who you are during the college years, and more.
Where to Take It from Here:
Wherever it feels natural. If these questions lead to a longer discussion on the topic, wonderful! (There’s a guide just after this paragraph that helps you do just that.) If your kids are barely uttering grunts, don’t get discouraged—the next time it feels right, try out another song. Keep engaging them.

For Deeper Discussion:
(If your kids seem into diving in deeper and looking at what the Bible has to say on the subject, the following discussion guide can help take you there.)


Want help getting your teenager engaged in conversation? CLICK HERE for a helpful article from our "Parenting Help" page providing you with 3 Essentials to Talking with Today's Teens.

Transitional Statement:
I like how this music video gave random people on the street an opportunity to write a message to a younger version of themselves. In short, they were able to write down what they wish they knew when they were younger. No doubt there are tons of stories, upsets, and heartbreaks hidden in those cardboard signs. Those people are who they are today because of the decisions they’ve made through this point in their lives. For good or bad, the decisions you make today will forge who you become in the future, too. That’s why it’s so important to make good decisions today. Let’s talk about that some more
.

More Discussion Questions:
  1. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our favorite song at the moment.

  2. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What’s one piece of advice you’ve been given in your life so far. What happened as a result?

  3. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Look back over the lyrics if need be. What piece of advice or counsel from the song do you think is most important? Why?

  4. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: I know you guys are young, but, is there something you would like to say to your younger self? If so, what and why?

  5. Read the following passage:

      Proverbs 2:1-15 (NIV)

      My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-- every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, 15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

  6. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Overall, what is this father trying to communicate to his son?

  7. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: According to verses 1-4, what (all) does the father want his son to do?

  8. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: What are some of the benefits the father says will come if the son listens to his counsel? (HINT: Look at verses 5-8 and verses 10-15.)

  9. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: Of all the benefits of finding wisdom and obeying wise counsel that we just talked about in the last question, which do you find most appealing and why?

  10. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How would your life be different if you lived your life the way this father told his son to live his life?

  11. ASK A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS: How would your life be different if you could go back and tell your younger self something?

  12. HAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ANSWER: What are you willing to do differently starting this week that will change your life and help you avoid the pain that was spoken about in the song?

Wrap Up:
We heard a song about what a singer would say to himself if he could go back in time and speak with a younger version of himself. He poetically shared what he would want to do different, and how he’d want his life to be. It’s an interesting concept…and an impossible one.

We can’t go back and tell our younger selves anything. Translation: unless we’re very careful, we’re going to have scars and bruises on our hearts and minds. We might even leave scars and bruises in other people’s hearts!

So, what can we do? Must we just learn by trudging though a bunch of mistakes? Do we just have to fall down, get up, fall down, get up, fall down, and get up over and over again?

I don’t think so.

I want you to do something. I want you to ask yourself who you want to be in 10 years. Deeply think about where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, what you’ll have, what you’ll be doing, and anything else that comes to mind. Take a moment if need be. Everybody got it?

Now, I want you to think about what that older version of yourself has to say to you RIGHT NOW. What would he or she say is most important for you to do, or to avoid, or to accomplish, or even to cut from your life?

Can I ask you to do one more thing…for yourself? You don’t have to, but I strongly suggest it. In fact, you’ll be really, really glad you did if you actually do this. Ready?

Take a moment to share what the older version of you said. That’s right. Let’s talk about what you think you need to do or change about your life to get where you want to be, to please God, or to have healthy relationships with others. That way, we can help you get there.


After discussion….

Close in Prayer

Written by David R Smith

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