There’s a pithy little acronym that is very popular in youth culture at the moment. My teenage daughter introduced it to our family some time ago. Now, with three teenagers in our household, the phrase is used frequently and light-heartedly. The term has even rubbed off on me, and I have to admit it pops out of my own mouth—much to the amusement of my children. If you have or spend any time with teens, you probably know what I’m talking about:
YOLO. You Only Live Once.
Enjoy your life, it implies, even if you have to take risks. Of course, there is nothing new about the concept of living a carefree life, particularly when one is young. But YOLO has been used to justify not only daring exploits, but irresponsible and even harmful behavior. Consequently, a YOLO attitude toward life can have negative consequences. I read one such story online about a girl in her early twenties who, when arrested for reckless behavior with a dangerously high blood-alcohol level, responded: “YOLO.”
The Washington Post points out that YOLO glorifies brash decisions and their consequences rather than the noble idea of living life to the fullest. The Latin phrase“carpe diem” has a similar meaning, if not the current popularity. It means to “seize the day,” or to “pluck the day, as it is ripe.” So often we live today with disappointments about yesterday—things we did, or wish we had done. But we shouldn’t let the past dictate what we will do both today and tomorrow for the better. Regrets about yesterday’s actions erode our happiness today, but we can still live a rich and gratifying life.
Having the satisfaction of living a day well—full of thoughts, words, and actions that build a strong future for ourselves and for those around us—is more what YOLO should mean and what its activities should symbolize. So over the next number of months I want us to rethink the definition of YOLO and explore the idea of living life to its fullest. This is, after all, a biblical concept.
Jesus spoke these significant words in John 10:10: “I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full.” Let us grasp hold of these words of Jesus, and come to understand what they mean for our own lives. Right at the beginning of his preaching ministry, Jesus decisively announced that, in him, all God’s plans had come to fruition (Mark 1:15). Today, we can take Jesus’s words as being ripe, like fruit, ready for us to pick and apply to our lives.