Recently, I’ve been reflecting on life lessons I’m learning as I grow and mature (a nice way of saying get older). They are not particularly profound, but hopefully they will be helpful.
1) I’m valuable because of who my Creator is, not what I create.
It’s so easy to root our worth in our performance. Many of my friends, especially men, in their mid-30s to mid-40s are looking at their life’s scorecard all wrong. When you are 22, you imagine all the mountains you’ll conquer by the time you’re 35. Then you wake up at 35, 40 or whatever and realize you’re barely ½ up the mountain. Or you hate the mountain you’re climbing.
The right kind of ambition is a gift and a good thing. The desire to ‘climb the mountain’ is a good desire. However, our accomplishments and victories aren’t the measure of our worth. Never for one second has the notion that IF my daughter scored a goal, won the Spelling Bee, got into Harvard or whatever – that those accomplishments would make me proud of her. Never has she ever had to accomplish something to earn my love. She’s my daughter. She was born and her daddy was already proud of her.
I’ve been created in the Image of God. My Heavenly Father has no regrets! I’m valuable and worthy because He loves me.
2) A hurting heart is better than a dead heart.
No one likes pain. I’ve known my fair share of heartache. I’ve lost jobs, homes, friends and loved ones. I’ve been hurt, wounded and bear some of the scars still. At times my response to the pain has been to block it, deny it or detach from it. When you’re hurting the mirage of isolation is so alluring. I know, because I’ve been there. But I learned that apathy was worse. Indifference is soul sucking and miserable. I’ve learned it’s better to be vulnerable and open to being hurt again, than wall up and protect myself. When your heart is hurting – it’s evidence your alive.
3) The more I know, the less I know.
I’m a bit paranoid these days. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t have some sort of revelation of how naïve I was at 25. For that matter when I was 30. I feel like I’m in a better, smarter, wiser place than I was then. However, truth be told, I thought I was in a better, smarter and wiser place when I was 25 and 30 too. This is where the paranoia comes in. What am I doing, thinking and valuing today that 5-10 years down the road I’ll be realizing wasn’t better, smarter or wiser?
The older I get, the more I know – the more I know what I don’t know. There is so much I don’t know about marriage, parenting, preaching, ministry, money you name it. I’m asking more questions today than ever before. I probably should be asking even more.
Dear 25 year-olds, You’re smart, gifted and capable! Just not as smart, gifted and capable as you think. Trust me.
4) Jesus is better than I thought He was.
In Mark 7:37 Jesus has rebuked the hypocritical Pharisees, shown love to outcasts and healed the sick. The witnesses of these events are astonished and amazed at this Man. They said of Him: “He has done all things well”.
All things. Money, cool jobs, exhilarating experiences, sex, fame – all of it pales in comparison to Jesus. I’ve knowingly and sometimes unknowingly tried to satisfy the deepest parts of my soul with what this world has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, this world offers really attractive gods. They make you and me happy for a bit. But they don’t satisfy. They leave us thirsty for more.
I learned so much in seminary about the Bible, about morality and about strategy. I learned principle after principle about how to live ‘a Godly life’. But I learned little of how good Jesus was. Maybe it was taught and I didn’t hear it.
The more I get to know Jesus, the better He continues to become.
5) The best medicine is disgusting.
Let’s be real here for a minute and not fake humble. We all have gifts, perspectives, experiences or insights in our life (to the praise of Jesus) that are good things. We have something good to offer others.
Almost without exception the best things I have to offer in life are the fruits of trials and hardship. Failure has wrought wisdom. Loss has wrought love in me. Injustice against me has wrought integrity towards others. Difficulty has given birth to gritty determination.
Don’t get me wrong – no one likes being in the storm. Frankly, no one likes being told that good is going to come from the storm. But weathering the storm makes you stronger. I’m grateful for the storms.
6) The grandeur of deserted island living is an illusion.
I’ve got a bit if an independent streak in me. My parents will tell you they could give me a stick and a sandwich and walk away for 8 hours and I’d be just fine. But I’m voluntarily giving up much of that independence because I’m better with others than on my own. Don’t get me wrong – this natural born introvert still needs solitude, but my life is richer being deeply connected to other people.
I’d rather do ministry as a team, than as a solo act. It’s harder that way. It’s more annoying this way. It’s slower this way! BUT IT IS BETTER this way!
Walking through life with my wife as an indispensable piece of who I am is better than her being my roommate.
I guarantee you this: If you do life closely with people you will get annoyed, hurt and frustrated at times. But it’s worth it. Because you’ll also be loved, cared for and you’ll get to share life with someone along the way! (PS – We will annoy, frustrate and hurt people too)
So these are some thoughts and reflections I’m having these days. What about you?