What I Learned From an 18-Year Old Version of Myself

Known for its rich history, the Bahamian island of Bimini has been a temporary home to such great influencers as Earnest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legends of the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth still linger in the salty Bahamian breeze as the culture speaks of its past.

It was a mission trip with Young Life to this beautiful island that changed my life.

I now know that this trip was the beginning of the story I am penning today – a story to redefine the word rich.

Although I felt this trip to Bimini was something I needed to do, it took a lot of courage to replace my beloved pastime of baseball to go. I’ve since learned, courage is necessary for change.

My time at the orphanage in Bimini

We were to fly into Nassau and work two days in an orphanage before embarking on a 20-hour sail that would take us through the Atlantic to the small island. While there, we would lead a Vacation Bible School for five days before returning home.

One of my graduation gifts was a leather-bound journal.

Until that point in my life, I had not kept a journal, unless required to in school. I can see myself opening the gift saying, Gee, thanks! The last thing I wanted to do was write.

I can’t begin to tell you how profound that gift is to me today.

The clarity I receive from this journal, years after it was penned, still speak to me today. As if an 18-year old version of myself is calling to me in my thirties.

I hope it speaks to you.

The Bimini Journal

These are the excerpts and my interpretations.

My skewed view of richness:

It’s amazing to see how these people praise, but have nothing like we do.

I was learning about true richness.

Speaking of my first day at the orphanage in Nassau:

I have to get used to how clingy these children are. I try everyday to open up and love unconditionally. I know that only when I see things through a lens of faith, will I be a better person.

In short, I was broken.

Something was starting to work in me as I opened up to these kids:

I saw how I interacted with these kids today and I just want to be sure that I am the same person back home.  I want my family and friends to know I love them because I show them.

I was being taught that richness is about others.

On the transformation in my soul:

I’d like to pray that I humble myself and allow my world to be taken apart and see through Christ’s eyes.

I understood the importance of humility.

Reflecting on the trip:

This trip was probably the best decision I ever made.  I can honestly say, this is the most amazing adventure I’ve ever been on.

I began to understand gratitude.

My leather-bound journal

My leather-bound journal

Without my journal, many of these words would be lost in the sea of life as the tides come and go, taking with it great moments.  This is my reminder to pay attention, every day.

Thirteen years later, these principles would become those featured in my book You Make My Life Rich.

True richness will pass you by if you settle for someone else’s definition; define it yourself.

I closed my journal entries with this verse from Habakkuk 3:19:

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”

Here’s to redefining richness and treading on the heights…

QUESTIONS: What story will you tell years from now by the decisions your making today? What does being rich mean to you?


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It would be an honor to walk along with you!

Keep an eye out for my upcoming book, "You Make My Life Rich" which goes into detail on the principles of living richly!

Thank YOU for stopping by!


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8 Responses to What I Learned From an 18-Year Old Version of Myself

  1. Mary Anne Collins August 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    awesome post Matt… keep writing.

    • Matt Ham August 20, 2013 at 5:07 am #

      Thanks so much Mary Anne! That’s my goal!

  2. Sara Eagle August 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    I remember that night on the Bahama Star. What a humbling experience. Thanks for sharing your journal entries, makes me want to find where I put my “memorabilia” from that trip.

    • Matt Ham August 20, 2013 at 5:08 am #

      Go find it Sara and share!


  1. Baseball and Bimini | Matt Ham - August 19, 2013

    […] I played throughout high school and always felt like I had the opportunity to play in college.  However, my senior year, as I had just talked with NC State about that opportunity, I started feeling a ‘whisper’.  I had been invited to go on a mission trip with our area Young Life group to Bimini in the Bahamas.  Now I had NEVER done anything like this, but I felt this ‘whisper’ in my heart.  What’s this all about?!  (if you read my first blog, you’ll see this is a theme in my life)  Needless to say I was torn.  The trip only overlapped one game, but it was the first game of our Legion State Tournament.  I can’t leave my teammates.  I shrugged it off.  A few weeks later, my Young Life leader, Paul Phillips, came to me again and said someone had dropped out, there was a spot open.  Man!  That ‘whisper’ was getting louder!  After talking with my parents and spending time in prayer, I decided to go.  Looking back, I’m sure there were some folks that weren’t happy with the decision; coaches, other players, other parents. Now, I see clearly that decision was necessary.  My experience in Bimini not only deepened my faith, but more importantly it taught me about my decisions and how to make them.  I wrote at length about my Bimini experience in my post Bimini Revisited – The Power of Intention. […]

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    […] my first journaling experience during a mission trip in Bimini and its impact on my life.  Click here to read about it!  Going through that process of revisiting my journal was so powerful!  From it […]

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