Life Lesson Poems

Life Lesson Poems

Poems about Life Lessons

It has been said that life is the most patient teacher. You will be presented with the same experience over and over until you learn the best way to deal with the situation. This is not because life is cruel. Rather, it is because things have a way of coming back to haunt us when we don't deal with them. One form of intelligence is the ability to learn from mistakes. When you are presented with a painful experience, take the time to think about how you can avoid it in the future. This is an example of a lesson learned.

85 Poems about Lessons Learned from Mistakes

  1. 1. I Still Matter

    I never thought I would, but since I turned 60, I have been struggling with growing old and all the emotions that entails.


    My looks are nothing special,
    My face reveals my age,
    My body shows some wear and tear,
    And my energy's not the same.

    Too often my memory fails me,
    And I lose things all the time.
    One minute I know what I plan to do,
    And the next it may just slip my mind.

    I try hard to avoid my mirror.
    There are things I would rather not see,
    And even those times when I just catch a glimpse,
    I can no longer recognize me.

    The things I used to do with ease
    Can now cause aches and pains,
    And the quality of the things I do
    Will never be quite the same.

    I always compare my older self
    To those younger versions of me,
    And I know I'm wasting too much time
    Missing who I used to be.

    But the thing that really makes me sad
    Is despite what people see,
    Underneath my tattered, worn out shell,
    I'm still the same old me.

    My heart can still feel endless love,
    And at times it still can ache.
    My heart can fill with so much joy,
    And then it can suddenly break.

    My soul can still feel sympathy
    And longs for forgiveness and peace,
    And there are times its light shines boldly through,
    And times when it longs for release.

    It's true, maybe now that I'm older,
    Feeling lonely may be status quo,
    But it also has made me more willing
    To forgive and let past conflicts go.

    So maybe to some I look ugly and old,
    A person who barely exists.
    I'm still quite aware of the beauty inside,
    And my value should not be dismissed.

    So although not as strong and no beauty, it's true,
    I'm still here and want so much to live,
    And I know that there's no one in this world quite like me,
    And no one who has more to give.

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    This poem really hit home with me. I will be 60 on my next birthday and it seems like years fly by like days. I too look in the mirror and wonder where all the lines and wrinkles have came...

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  3. 2. Good Timber

    Douglas Malloch (1877-1938), known as the "Lumbermen's Poet," compares good men to good timber in this famous metaphorical poem. The message of this poem is that people, like trees, grow and reach their true potential by overcoming adversity. It is only through struggles, like a tree fighting through forest growth to reach the sun, that we grow and discover our true potential. Malloch lived in Michigan where he grew up amongst logging camps and lumber yards. He wrote his first published poem when he was still a boy; it was published in the Detroit News.

    The tree that never had to fight
         For sun and sky and air and light,
    But stood out in the open plain
         And always got its share of rain,
    Never became a forest king
         But lived and died a scrubby thing.

    The man who never had to toil
         To gain and farm his patch of soil,
    Who never had to win his share
         Of sun and sky and light and air,
    Never became a manly man
         But lived and died as he began.

    Good timber does not grow with ease,
         The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
    The further sky, the greater length,
         The more the storm, the more the strength.
    By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
         In trees and men good timbers grow.

    Where thickest lies the forest growth
         We find the patriarchs of both.
    And they hold counsel with the stars
         Whose broken branches show the scars
    Of many winds and much of strife.
         This is the common law of life.

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  5. 3. Each Moment Is Precious

    I wrote this poem to express the importance of each moment in life and living it to the fullest.

    Live in the moment,
    Just take it all in.
    Pay attention to everything,
    Right there and right then.

    Don't let your mind wander
    To what's coming next.
    Cherish this moment
    And give it your best.

    Don't let tomorrow
    Make you rush through today,
    Or too many great moments
    Will just go to waste.

    And the person you're with,
    In that moment you share,
    Give them all of your focus;
    Be totally there.

    Laugh till it hurts,
    Let the tears drop.
    Fill up each moment
    With all that you've got.

    Don't miss the details;
    The lesson is there.
    Don't get complacent;
    Stay sharp and aware.

    It can take but a moment
    To change your life's path.
    And once it ticks by,
    There is no going back.

    In just 60 seconds,
    You may make a new friend.
    Find your true love,
    Or see a life start or end.

    You become who you are
    In those moments you live.
    And the growth's not in taking
    But in how much you give.

    Life is just moments,
    So precious and few.
    Whether valued or squandered,
    It's all up to you!

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  6. 4. Changing The Past

    • By Donna
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems July 2011

    What inspired me to write this poem was my brother. He was going through some bad stuff, but it was fixable. It wasn't as bad as what a lot of people go through in this world. Actually, he selfishly brought it on himself. I tried to talk to him as much as I could, but he wouldn't listen. He refused to let it go. He just kept holding onto it. When I couldn't get through to him, I wrote this poem because I needed to write my feelings down, and this is what came out. Hopefully you enjoy it.

    The past is the past for a reason.
    That is where it is supposed to stay,
    But some cannot let it go.
    In their heads it eats away

    Until all their focus becomes
    The person they used to be,
    The mistakes they made in their life.
    Oh, if only they could see

    That you cannot change what happened,
    No matter how hard you try,
    No matter how much you think about it,
    No matter how much you cry.

    What happens in your lifetime
    Happens for reasons unknown,
    So you have to let the cards unfold.
    Let your story be shown.

    Don't get wrapped up in the negative.
    Be happy with what you have been given.
    Live for today not tomorrow.
    Get up, get out, and start living,

    Because the past is the past for a reason.
    It's been, and now it is gone,
    So stop trying to think of ways to fix it.
    It's done, it's unchangeable; move on.

    Poem About Letting Go Of The Past, Changing The Past

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    I really enjoyed this poem. It's so very true. We all have certain regrets or circumstances in life we would give anything to change if we could. Sometimes that is just not possible, and even...

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  7. 5. If You Must Go

    These are a few things I have learned from my experiences in life.

    If you must go, then go for a while
    Remember that first step is a hard traveled mile.

    To learn what lessons life has in store,
    You must be willing to open each door.

    Don't be afraid to experience something new
    For each experience will be a benefit to you.

    Never live your life in the past
    Enjoy every day as if it were your last

    Mistakes you will make along the way
    Learn from them, and you'll be okay

    Set your goals high and strive for them
    As long as you try, you'll never be condemned

    Be kind and respect the people you meet
    For they may be the ones to make life complete

    Be sincere in everything you do
    And treat others as you wish they would you

    Whatever you do, make sure you're content
    For the last thing you want is something to resent

    So if you must go, then go for a while
    And when you return, return with a smile.

    Poem With Words Of Advice, If You Must Go

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    I, too, was motivated by your poem. Like Arimoon, I also allow my past to hold me back. I am so hard on myself for my past mistakes, regret, bad decisions, etc... but with each new day that...

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  8. 6. A Snowflake Falls

    • By Ruth Adams
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2006

    Nothing is permanent, so let's be present to the good in our lives because it will not last forever.

    One night I saw a snowflake fall.
    Past memories it did recall.

    And as the snow fell to the ground,
    So quietly without a sound,

    I watched until a blanket made,
    To glistening white - brown earth did fade.

    An untouched cover until the dawn.
    The sun arose; it was soon gone.

    I thought of friendships in the past.
    Seemed perfect though they did not last.

    And family ties once meant so much,
    Now rarely do we keep in touch.

    So quickly life can take a turn,
    Yet slowly we do seem to learn.

    So many things in life can change
    And suddenly be rearranged.

    In our slumber while we do sleep,
    For granted blessings thought to keep,

    For same as night does turn to morn,
    An untouched blanket can get torn,

    The things that we have overlooked,
    Ignored, rejected or mistook,

    As melted snow does turn to slush,
    Relationships can turn to dust.

    So this year for the holiday,
    Praise God for blessings given today.

    Don't take for granted they'll remain,
    That life forever will be the same.

    Let's be the most that we can be,
    For all our friends and family.

    Unlike the snowflake on the ground,
    Let's keep in touch and stay around.

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  9. 7. Forgiveness Is Divine

    This poem is about people who hold on to grudges and can't forgive and how destructive that is.

    Some people view forgiveness
    As a virtue for the weak.
    An act of mercy undeserved,
    That serves no useful need.

    They stand firmly in their judgment
    And won't consider a mistake.
    They prefer to hold a senseless grudge
    Than accept amends when made.

    They feel they have some godly right
    To reject and criticize.
    They're possessed by righteous anger,
    And consumed by pointless pride.

    They're focused on how they've been wronged,
    And won't be made the fool again.
    So they feel they must avenge themselves
    By refusing to give in.

    They will sacrifice their family,
    Or forsake a long-time friend.
    Do anything they have to do
    To be the winner in the end.

    Or perhaps it's that they can't resolve
    The depth of all their hurt,
    Caused when someone they've trusted,
    Left them questioning their worth.

    But no matter why the struggle,
    Out of pride or out of fear,
    Not being able to forgive
    Can cause the loss of ones most dear.

    Yes, forgiveness is a virtue,
    They even say it is divine.
    But more than that it sets you free
    From what weighs you down inside.

    The best way to approach this life
    Is to ask forgiveness and to forgive.
    There's a balance to this crazy world,
    So live and just let live.

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  10. 8. As You Go Through Life

    In this poem, Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) shares valuable advice about life and shows that trying to make things go your way is futile. She encourages that instead of fighting against the reality of life being difficult at times, allow yourself to be shaped into God’s plan. A lot of her poems have a spiritual element to them. This poem is made up of octaves (eight-line stanzas).

    Don't look for the flaws as you go through life;
       And even when you find them,
    It is wise and kind to be somewhat blind
       And look for the virtue behind them.
    For the cloudiest night has a hint of light
       Somewhere in its shadows hiding;
    It is better by far to hunt for a star,
       Than the spots on the sun abiding.

    The current of life runs ever away
       To the bosom of God's great ocean.
    Don't set your force 'gainst the river's course
       And think to alter its motion.
    Don't waste a curse on the universe--
       Remember it lived before you.
    Don't butt at the storm with your puny form,
       But bend and let it go o'er you.

    The world will never adjust itself
       To suit your whims to the letter.
    Some things must go wrong your whole life long,
       And the sooner you know it the better.
    It is folly to fight with the Infinite,
       And go under at last in the wrestle;
    The wiser man shapes into God's plan
       As water shapes into a vessel.

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  11. 9. Start Where You Stand

    Start where you stand and never mind the past,
    The past won't help you in beginning new,
    If you have left it all behind at last
    Why, that's enough, you're done with it, you're through;
    This is another chapter in the book,
    This is another race that you have planned,
    Don't give the vanished days a backward look,
    Start where you stand.

    The world won't care about your old defeats
    If you can start anew and win success;
    The future is your time, and time is fleet
    And there is much of work and strain and stress;
    Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
    Here is a brand-new trial right at hand,
    The future is for him who does and dares,
    Start where you stand.

    Old failures will not halt, old triumphs aid,
    To-day's the thing, to-morrow soon will be;
    Get in the fight and face it unafraid,
    And leave the past to ancient history,
    What has been, has been; yesterday is dead
    And by it you are neither blessed nor banned;
    Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead,
    Start where you stand.

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  12. 10. Windows

    You’ve probably heard the saying, “The grass is greener on the other side.” This poem captures that sentiment. Often, we look longingly at what others have while looking down on what is ours. The irony is that others see such beauty in what we have.

    I looked through others' windows
    On an enchanted earth
    But out of my own window--
    solitude and dearth.

    And yet there is a mystery
    I cannot understand--
    That others through my window
    See an enchanted land.

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  13. 11. Speak The Language Of Your Heart

    Too often in life, we fail to tell our loved ones how important they are to us. We need to do that every day before it's too late.

    Each day we wake is such a gift;
    No moment's guaranteed.
    Tomorrow isn't promised,
    But to fate we must concede.

    We cannot know our futures,
    How long or short our lives.
    We simply do the best we can
    Until the end arrives.

    And in life, what's most important,
    In the scheme of every day,
    Are the people who stand by our sides
    As we venture on our way.

    Those cherished, loyal, patient souls,
    Who take us as we are,
    Who look beyond our foolishness,
    Our frailties and our scars.

    How often do we take the time
    To lay our hearts down bare
    And tell them how we truly feel
    And just how much we care?

    Do we freely give a compliment
    And acknowledge efforts made?
    Or do our own quite fragile egos
    Make us feel far too afraid?

    Have we tried to overcome our pride
    And forgive another's wrongs?
    Or do we cling to hurt and anger
    And carry grudges far too long?

    Do we share our blessings willingly
    With those who are in need?
    Or do we hoard our own good fortune
    Out of selfishness and greed?

    It's the people all around us
    Who make us who we are.
    It is they who save our erring souls
    And fill our lonely hearts.

    So it's time we show some gratitude
    And not wait another day.
    For before we even know it,
    Our chance may slip away.

    It's past time to say I love you
    And forgive another's sins.
    We must let ourselves be vulnerable
    By letting others in.

    For one day, tomorrow will not come;
    We may not meet again.
    For inevitably, for each of us,
    It all comes to an end.

    So go ahead and say the words;
    Make today a start.
    Don't regret your silence;
    Share the language of your heart.

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    This touches my heart deeply. I believe life is more about what "IS" rather than the what "WAS" with unresolved issues between family or friends. I am in recovery with four estranged...

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  14. 12. Do Not Love Half Lovers

    Do not love half lovers
    Do not entertain half friends
    Do not indulge in works of the half talented
    Do not live half a life and do not die a half death
    If you choose silence, then be silent
    When you speak, do so until you are finished
    Do not silence yourself to say something
    And do not speak to be silent
    If you accept, then express it bluntly
    Do not mask it
    If you refuse then be clear about it
    for an ambiguous refusal
    is but a weak acceptance
    Do not accept half a solution
    Do not believe half truths
    Do not dream half a dream
    Do not fantasize about half hopes
    Half a drink will not quench your thirst
    Half a meal will not satiate your hunger
    Half the way will get you no where
    Half an idea will bear you no results
    Your other half is not the one you love
    It is you in another time yet in the same space
    It is you when you are not
    Half a life is a life you didn't live,
    A word you have not said
    A smile you postponed
    A love you have not had
    A friendship you did not know
    To reach and not arrive
    Work and not work
    Attend only to be absent
    What makes you a stranger to them closest to you
    and they strangers to you
    The half is a mere moment of inability
    but you are able for you are not half a being
    You are a whole that exists
    to live a life not half a life

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  15. 13. Keep On Smiling

    • By Alexandra Skiathitis
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2008

    What a smile can do

    If at times you feel you want to cry
    And life seems such a trial,
    Above the clouds there's a bright blue sky,
    So make your tears a smile.

    As you travel on life's way
    With its many ups and downs,
    Remember it's quite true to say
    One smile is worth a dozen frowns.

    Among the world's expensive things,
    A smile is very cheap.
    And when you give a smile away,
    You get one back to keep.

    Happiness comes at times to all,
    But sadness comes unbidden,
    And sometimes a few tears must fall
    Among the laughter hidden.

    So when friends have sadness on their face
    And troubles round them piled,
    The world will seem a better place
    And all because you smiled.

    Keep On Smiling

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    So I moved and I really wanted good friends. I had this one friend who was always happy and could light up a room by walking in. He was always smiling and this poem reminded me of him. Thank you.

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  16. 14. Family Circle

    • By Melissa G. Nicks
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems February 2006

    This poem is about the circle of life and the bittersweet realization of how time and life pass by so quickly.

    When I am born, you are here
    In your eye, I see a tear
    Time flies and already I'm two
    "Look, Daddy, I can tie my shoe!"

    Before you know it, I'm five
    Every day, you thank God I'm alive
    Pretty soon, I turn eight
    You tell me I'm never allowed to date

    I'm already twelve in my preteen years
    Which means you'll help me with all my new fears
    Now fourteen with my permit to drive
    Waiting to hit the big one-five

    Too early comes sixteen, with my license now
    It went by too fast, you just ask how

    You want to meet my boyfriend when I'm eighteen
    I pray to God that you're not too mean
    The same guy two years later asks for my hand
    I'm relieved when you say, that's just grand

    About a year later, you walk me down the aisle
    Through all the tears, you bare a smile
    Three years later, you're gonna be a grandfather
    You show love and pride for your new granddaughter

    Another year down the road
    Mom dies, oh the many tears that flowed
    You're not doing so well without her
    Less than a year later, you forgot all about her

    Alzheimer's sets in and it scares me so
    Not long after, you decide to go
    Now I'm regretting not saying goodbye
    Every time I think about it, I start to cry

    The cycle has begun again
    It has started over with little Megan
    The other day, she turned two
    And said, "Look, daddy, I can tie my shoe!"

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    Wow! Words cannot describe the quality of this poem. It is touching and another thing is that it co-relates with life's reality. Thanks a lot and thumbs up for the great job!

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  17. 15. Perceptions

    Took a me a while, but after misjudging people and being misjudged myself a number of times, I've learned to be careful jumping to conclusions about others.

    First impressions can be strong
    About those we see around.
    Yet how often are they wrong?
    That is the truth I've found.

    Not all who cry are weak.
    Not everyone who looks can see.
    Not all who are quiet are meek.
    Not all who nod agree.

    Not all who snarl are cruel.
    Not everyone generous is just.
    Not everyone clumsy is a fool.
    Not all who wander are lost.

    We never know people's character.
    In just a single instance.
    We never know who people are
    By judging from a distance.

    But whether we like it or not,
    We'll always be around people.
    Is it better to know a few people a lot
    Or a lot of people a little?

    I'd rather know a few people a lot
    Than a lot of people a little.

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    What a wonderful piece of writing. I love it! I agree with it. In my early 20's I worked in a convenience store, and I had a game I played where I would judge whether the customer would be...

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  18. 16. Love After Love

    Much of the inspiration for Derek Walcott's poetry comes from the history of Saint Lucia, where he was born. This poem has a theme of accepting yourself as you are. Before you can love others, you need to love yourself.

    The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    and each will smile at the other's welcome,

    And say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

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    My husband died 10 years ago. He was the love of my life, my soul-mate, my best friend. I have not known how to 'adjust' to him being gone until I read this poem, "Love After Love." Everyone...

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  19. 17. True Joy

    How to live in the present...

    I'll be happy once I've done this certain thing.
    We all say this often, not realizing what it brings.
    We look only to the future for our happiness,
    Letting life slip through our fingers in its fullness.
    Will we really feel complete when the task is done
    or look back and see how we missed so much fun?
    Self consumed so we can't see anything else,
    hurting those we love as well as ourselves.
    So many things around us to be grateful for.
    When seeking for an answer, willingly open the door.
    So often, others see what's in front of our face,
    but we're too blind to look as we're snared in the race.
    What is this life supposed to be about?
    Is it money, fortune, fame, or a big house?
    When speaking to a man on his dying bed,
    none of these answers are what he said.
    Family, love, laughter are what we should seek.
    These are the precious things that keep life from being bleak.

    True Joy

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    Well thought out expression of a very deep yet communal event given voice in an authentic poetry format. Deeply set me thinking about my father's recent death. It's an experience that bind...

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  20. 18. Touching The Sky

    • By Shreya D. Chattree
    •  Published by Family Friend Poems August 2018

    The poem is about a girl who wants to face all the ups and downs in life. She wants to challenge all the situations and then emerge as a free and mature bird who has discovered the whole sky, flying among the clouds. She wants to commit mistakes but only to learn from them. She wants to have a heart made of gold, which only stores love and has no hatred to show.

    Come for me, sweet tomorrow.
    Help me touch the sky.
    Like a well-learned bird opens its wings,
    I, too, want to fly high.
    Don't let the darkness of yesterday
    Blind my vision to evolve.
    Coming out of the bitterness of the past,
    Help me let my flaws absolve.
    Make me like a rainbow,
    The colours mingled together,
    But all of them in show.
    Help me discover my hidden talents
    And pull myself together with efforts gallant.
    Let me be a beacon of goodness
    For the people I meet.
    Help me hear the music of life
    And follow every beat.
    Come for me, sweet tomorrow.
    Help me touch the sky;
    Like a well-learned bird opens its wings,
    I, too, want to fly high.

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    Committing mistakes and then learning from them can be a great lesson of life. It can truly evolve a person into a nice gentleman. I remember, after passing out of the university, I joined an...

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  21. 19. Lessons For Living

    Having been a Camp Fire and Cub Scout leader, I saw early on how easily young children were influenced by what they were exposed to from the beginning. I watched those same children grow to adults and the results of their childhood training. I hope the parents that might read this poem will give it some thought.

    I see you looking at your children,
    Wondering what their lives will be.
    If you verify some answers
    Then their future you might see.

    Have you taught them to be truthful?
    Have you taught them to be kind?
    Have you given them the wisdom
    Needed to be color blind?

    Have you taught them to be caring
    For those handicapped some way?
    Do you read to them at bedtime?
    Have you taught them how to pray?

    Have you taken time to tell them
    What a miracle life is?
    How to be aware of nature,
    Share the beauty that it gives?

    Have you taught them how important
    It is to have respect for one another?
    To be grateful, not be prideful
    When good fortune you discover?

    Do you let them know you love them
    In a way that leaves no doubt,
    So they know that is one thing
    That they will never be without?

    We like to think we've done our best.
    Sometimes that's very true.
    Can you say 'yes' to all my questions?
    I will leave that up to you.

    I hope your answer is affirmative,
    For then I know that you will see
    A future filled with happiness
    Like it's supposed to be.

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    I loved this poem. The list of things that should be given to our children to have an amazing journey through this life, it's all here! This poem contains so much wisdom! Beautifully written....

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  22. 20. Take Time To Know Me

    Poem about being misjudged by people who do not really know you. This poem speaks about people who indulge in hearsay without trying to get to know people for themselves. Their views and criticisms of someone are based on grapevine information or what is "ancient history." Rumors continue to spread from person to person, and soon all those around you have a negative view of you. If they would only take the time to get to know people for themselves, they would realize that not everything they hear is true and that we are all not that much different.

    Take time to know me, and you will see
    That I am nothing like what you have heard spoken of me.
    Give me a chance, and I will prove to you
    That although I am not perfect, I have a heart that is pure and true.

    Take time to know me; just give it a try.
    You will see that we are not that much different, you and I.
    I make mistakes, don't you?
    But if you judge me by mine, expect that you will be judged by yours too.

    Take time to know me; you have nothing to fear.
    Unless you wish to hang on to what you have been told by your peers.
    Just for a minute put yourself in my shoes.
    How would you feel if someone was going by the rumors they have heard about you?

    Take time to know me; what have you got to lose,
    Besides the so called friends who have got you confused?
    I am not asking you to choose between me and them,
    And if they really care about you, they will always be your friends.

    Take time to know me is all I ask,
    No great feat or extraordinary task.
    Then if you don't like me,
    It will be because of what you have seen and heard for yourself
    And not because of what you have been told by someone else.

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