Well, I’m just over three months shy of turning the big 3-0. I made it through some of life’s greatest struggles, and I learned some life-changing lessons along the way. Some good – some not so good, but, either way, I will take what I’ve learned and try to make the next 10 years even better. These didn’t just pop in my head like one big epiphany one day. There were some lightbulb moments, but, for the most part, these were all gradual realizations that, unfortunately, took two or three tries before I got it right.
We’ve all heard the most popular life lessons: don’t spend more than you make, work hard, do your best, etc. those are important. Here’s a list I’ve compiled of five personal lessons, and, hopefully, it will encourage someone else.
1. Let them see YOU – We are not chameleons meant to camouflage our identity to conform or adapt to everything else around us. Why do we do this? Why did I feel the need to “camouflage”? Maybe for the same reason this fancy lizard does – to avoid the threat of the predator. There’s not enough time in the day to list everything I’ve considered a “predator”, but my point is – I am (and you are) a peculiar creation of God, made perfect in His image. He knows my every thought, desire, dream, my every mistake (and He STILL loves me? YES!!) I’m accepted… By the ONE who matters most. I will be who I was created to be. If someone doesn’t like it – they can take it up with my Father.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them…”
2. GIVE YOUR ALL – This one is in all caps because I cannot stress enough how important this is. I’ve always tried to spread myself too thin, and, as a result, I’ve missed out on opportunities – incredible opportunities.
There are people in the world who are prolific authors, songwriters, athletes, on and on. They give their all to (usually) one thing they are passionate about. I cannot tell you how many hobbies, sports, and activities I’ve been involved in, but my biggest regret is that I did not give my all to one thing. I’ve always been a passionate person, and, had I devoted all that passion to one or two things, who knows what I would be doing today. Maybe I would have been a singer, a full-time musician, a softball coach, a doctor (yes, that was a dream at some point), an engineer, a mother, even. For some of those, it’s too late. So, be passionate – not just about specific things – but about life in general. Fall in love with life. Whether your passion is collecting points on Candy Crush or showing your talent in front of large crowds, GIVE IT YOUR ALL.
True story – I had a brief conversation with a man recently who was passionate about (get ready for it) fountain pens. By the end of our conversation, I swear I was ready to dish out $30 for a decent fountain pen. Maybe I’m easily impressed, yes. But this guy was enthusiastic. You may not get “rich” (monetarily speaking) or famous, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing you gave your all. Your enthusiasm will be appealing, welcomed. Of course, I’m applying this rule to relationships also, but that will be discussed in a minute.
3. “Let your Yes’ be YES and No’s be NO” – No, I’m not being hypocritical. Like I said, these are lessons I’ve learned; I’m STILL learning. We are taught all our lives that we are supposed to tell the truth. The Bible tells us so, as well as parents, teachers, and those in authority. We may think that in a moment where it seems appropriate, a little white lie benefits us. Trust the one who has, at times, felt like a master manipulator – it DOES NOT, ever, under any circumstance, benefit anyone. All it does is start a domino effect, a snowball of lies and deceit that’s nearly impossible to defuse. You lose credibility, friends, and respect. Here’s an excerpt from a book I’m reading titled Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. The passage is appropriate for almost all of these I’ve listed:
4. Be anxious over nothing – I really should’ve titled this “Dear Me” because these are things I’m learning the hard way. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Why is this one of the hardest things to do? Maybe because we (or I,) have felt, at one point or another that I know what’s best for me. Let me tell you – I do not. Everything is not a crisis, and controlling my tongue has proven to be a difficult task, though extremely beneficial.
Everything is a process. For most of us anyway, we just don’t reach our goals overnight. Wake up early, work hard , make money, pay bills, save. By doing those simple things, it makes life a little easier and manageable when the difficult times hit.
5. Love to love… Hard – I mentioned earlier to fall in love with life. Here, however, I am specifically referring to relationships. Though it may be listed last, I find it is most important because the first objective is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I’m still working on this one myself. There are days when I feel it is so easy to love God with all my heart when life is going smooth and peachy. What about when someone rams the back of my car and drives off (this happened recently)? Let me tell you, my first thought was not “oh, how I love Jesus”. I’m just being real. In fact, I had to regroup and ask Him for forgiveness for my thoughts, for my words. And, because He loves me so, I’m forgiven. That’s how I want to love Him. That’s how I want to love others – in such a way that I can immediately offer compassion and forgiveness.
Holding onto bitterness only hurts the bitter one. I once heard it put this way, and I like it: it’s like drinking poison and waiting for the person you’re angry at to get sick.
There are far more important issues in life than worrying over someone who doesn’t like you or accept you. So, love people, and have no regrets. As much as I miss my grandmothers, I have no regrets. I know in my heart that they knew how much I loved them. I said it often, yes, but I also showed it. I have a long way to go, but I know if my priorities are to first love God then others as myself, life should be minimally complicated. In fact, I’m assuming it should be very rewarding! After all, how could I ever expect God to forgive me of all my many mistakes if I’m not willing to offer the same to my peers? Impossible.