While I write nonfiction, I love reading a good novel. Last month I was lucky enough to read The Five Times I Met Myself by James (Jim) Rubart. I was totally intrigued.
I invited James to join us today because I think that the topic of his book is something many deal with that can cause a lot of brokenness: regret.
In The Five Times I Met Myself, Brock is a successful business man whose business is suddenly tanking. His marriage is also shaky. He finds a way to go back and talk to his much younger self and to ask him to change one decision five times. Each result isn’t always what he thinks they will be.
What might happen if we could change our past? Would we be the person we are today if we didn’t make the choices (or mistakes) of our past? It’s an interesting thought. Let’s meet Jim! ~ Suzie
Q: In your novel, Brock was given a chance to meet his younger self. What would you say to your younger self, Jim?
Jim: Wow, you’re not trying to make me get vulnerable, are you? Such a great question. There are many things I’d say, but I’ll mention just three for the moment. I’d tell myself to take more risks — that you’re never ready to take them, so just “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down” (Ray Bradbury).
I’d also tell myself to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks: about you, your dreams, your life, who you should be or shouldn’t be. Worrying can be such a deterrent from living a life of freedom. Finally, I’d tell myself this life is shorter than you can imagine when you’re young, so live like it.
Q: Much of Brock’s validation in life has come from his work. Do you think that’s common?
Jim: We are tempted to look outside ourselves for validation: money, friends, accomplishments, success, awards, children, spouses.
We search for validation in many things other than God that will never fill us in the end. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had, it wasn’t to crash the guy’s party. Jesus simply knew if the guy hung onto to any of his things (in his heart), it would ultimately drain him of all true life.
Q: Is the kind of hope and restoration many are looking for possible without actually being able to go back and change something from the past?
Jim: Without question. Life is short. If you believe this is all there is, then I understand why people would despair.
However, I’m one of those who believe in an afterlife, where Jesus says all things will become new. He doesn’t say all new things. This is important. He says all things new. All things. All those moments of pain and longing and regret will be made NEW.
A good new. A tremendous new. Restored.
Redeemed. Made right.
Jesus came to restore that which was lost. I think there’s going to be a lot of celebrating of the things that will be restored in the coming kingdom. As for the present? There’s no point in looking back. It’s gone. But we can start living each day, this day, this moment, with hope and a determination to change our actions, to make choices that bring life to ourselves and those around us and to step into freedom in a way we never have before.
Q: I’m asking this just because I’m fascinated by this. Describe for us your secret writing room, where you wrote The Five Times I Met Myself.
Jim: My wife and I recently moved, and I had to give up my writing room! We lived in a house built in the late 80s when the style was to have a 20-foot ceiling in the entryway with a chandelier hanging down. Picture an elevator shaft going up to the second floor of our house when you first walk in. I always thought all you’d have to do is build a floor to get a secret room. The walls, ceiling, and even a window were already in. So I did it. The room was accessed through the back of my youngest son’s closet. You stepped through a little door into our attic, and about ten feet into the attic, you stepped through another small door that led into the writing room.
I have a photo of it on my website: https://jameslrubart.com/about.
Turns out the folks who bought our house are James L. Rubart readers, so they could truly appreciate the secret room. On top of that, they’re aspiring writers themselves. It’s fun to know the legacy of writing in that secret room will continue.
Q: What message do you hope readers to walk away with from The Five Times I Met Myself?
Jim: I believe there’s a part of us all that wishes we could go back and tell our younger selves what we should have done differently, whether we’re 20 or 40 or 60 or 80 years old. We wonder how our lives would have turned out if we’d made different choices.
And we want hope and restoration and freedom in the midst of examining those choices we did or did not make.
I wanted to explore those questions and give readers the chance to search through those questions in their own lives. By the end of the novel I want to offer hope and restoration for the choices they would or wouldn’t have made if they had the opportunity to do things over.
Andy Andrews describes the book as being life-changing. That’s exactly my hope: that people’s lives would be changed after reading The Five Times I Met Myself. I’ve had people say my books are not fluffy reading, that they stick with people months and years afterward. I hope that’s true. I want my stories to seep into people’s minds and, more importantly, their hearts and help them step into greater freedom for a long, long time.
To keep up with James L. Rubart, visit www.jameslrubart.com. You can also follow him on Facebook (JamesLRubart) or on Twitter (@jameslrubart).
Jim has offered to send one lucky person a copy of his novel, The Five Times I Met Myself. Just share one thing you wish you could tell your younger self to enter!
I would tell my younger self…ENJOY each moment!! Goes by too fast!! Stop worrying!! Find Gods Word now it will help more than can imagine!! You are loved and forgiven. You are beautiful. He is merciful!!
Would love to read this thanks n God bless!
what a fascinating idea! I would have many things to tell my younger self. I think the most important one would be, “it truly gets better”.
The one thing I would tell myself is to “hold her hand” when the fire comes. I lost my 7 yr old daughter in a house fire. If I had been holding her hand then I wouldn’t have lost her in the darkness and smoke.
Oh Sherry. My heart aches for you. I’m so sorry for your loss. I pray rest and peace is found in trusting that her little hand is being help my Jesus.
Oh, Sherry. There are no words.
Jesus, come close to Sherry now. Carry her. Comfort her. Give her peace that goes beyond what she has felt before. Give her the beautiful assurance that she will see her sweet girl again. Jesus, come soon.
I wold tell my younger self that I don’t have to beat myself up just because I make a mistake,
because ‘God’ loves and forgives me always and He has great plans for me. I would love the chance to read the book! Thanks! God Bless!
Wow. An intriguing question. I would tell my younger self to fall in love with Jesus sooner! He truly makes life amazing!
I would tell my self not to rush. Don’t give away your heart and yourself because you are worth so much more.
I miss my loved one’s-I did not realize at the time that it would be my last time to be with them. I wish I had been more focused on them and told them how much I love them and how thankful I am that they were in my life.
I’d tell myself to dig deeper into God’s word, Histruths, and His promises and be bolder in sharing My faith.
I would tell my younger self to not be so harsh with the children. That my younger self needed to spend more intentional time with them and to make sure that they could come to me with any bad thing that had happened in their life. that if they did we could work through it and things would be different.
I would tell myself to trust God’s plan for my life.
Keep Christian friends closer and stay faithful…
Worry less. Play more. You can’t please them all, so focus on pleasing God and following the dreams He gave you. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Life is short, cherish the big, the small, and live. Love even bigger.
Oh, thanks for sharing this! I’m adding it to my list of books to read and looking forward to diving in. If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to “believe BIG and live accordingly.”
Live like someone who KNOWS how much God truly loves her! Live courageously in His love!
I would tell myself to trust God with your whole heart…and His timing…don’t worry…it will all be ok!!
I would tell my younger self to hold fast to God every step of the way. Every. Step. Trust Him. Be more content. Worry less. Embrace the messy life!
I would tell my younger self that in the end, it’s my relationships with God and the people I love (family, friends etc) that really matter.
Kelly, you are today’s giveaway winner of The Five Times I Met Myself. I’ll privately email you!
I would tell my younger self, it’s okay not being perfect. It’s okay to not have it all, because all you need is Jesus!
I would tell my younger self to stop being so pre-occupied with silly stuff, and just enjoy life. To savor the time I had with my family and friends; to delve deeper into my faith earlier in life; and to be more gentle with myself and extend more grace to myself and those around me.
If I could go back and tell my younger self something I think it would be to take better care of myself. I wasted a lot of years stressing myself out over little things that I can see today did not really matter. I don’t think I would change things because even with the bad – God has blessed me.
I would have given in to the Lord sooner in my life, I would have trusted that he was guiding my steps, I would have relied more greatly on Him, rather than my own understanding! I think that I would have had greater self confidence, and therefore, would have taken more chances that I allowed fear to cheat me out of. Am I bitter and disappointed in my life as it is today? No, but I do wonder from time to time….what if? I’m comforted knowing this is normal, but I would like to read this book! Very intriguing! Thank you, Suzie!! 🙂
I commented once already. However a young Phillipino girl friended me recently…and this is the advice I gave her: “You are beautiful hon! Advice from a Grandma- value yourself as Christ values you! and dont settle for less than Gods best plans for your life! God bless you!” Immediately after your blog question came to mind and I came here to share. I have already entered drawing with what I thought my advice was- similar but THIS is it!!! God bless us!!
I would tell my younger self – to truly put God first in my life, to be involved in deep Bible study, to be more patient, and to wait on the Lord for direction in my life.