Yesterday, on a cold January morning in 1958, a young woman became a Mama with her first daughter. I’m told there was lots of snow and my dad was trying to keep the driveway clear for when it was time to head to the hospital. I made my debut at 9:10am at seven pounds something.
Fast forward to 2020. It’s now been six decades (plus a few years) since that day. That’s a lot of living. That’s a lot of experience. That’s a lot of life lessons learned. And, many of them were learned the hard way. Thankfully, for most of my life, there wasn’t any social media so there is no evidence of the stupid things I did to warrant such life lessons.
So, today, I’m going to give you six of the most important life lessons I’ve learned….one for each decade.
Gratitude is Attitude
I try and always remember the quote, what if you woke up this morning and had only the things you thanked God for yesterday (Max Lucado). A humbling thought. It’s easy to become self-centered in our me-first culture, which tends to lead to a life preoccupied with a state of wanting. Never take life for granted. Appreciate every second before it becomes a memory. No one is immune to having everything taken away from them….security, family, finances, life. God has graciously blessed my life (despite all the times I failed to thank him) and I’ve learned that having an attitude of thankfulness puts everything in perspective.
God gives you more than you can handle
I hate the phrase, God never gives us more than we can handle. Of course he does. Routinely. That previous quote is bumper sticker theology. If I said I could handle every curve ball that’s thrown at me on my own, I would be lying. This pithy phrase has been watered down from the passage:
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13.
What most people overlook is the part where God provides a way to endure the pain, loss, grief and challenges of life. More-than-I-can-handle moments are designed to draw us closer to him. And in his strength, we are strong.
Never stay mad at family
Families are messy. Most are dysfunctional. These are special relationships God has put in our lives to both bless and challenge us. Family has a way of hurting us in ways that can feel like our hearts are being ripped apart. But, aside from abuse or neglect, family can teach us forgiveness, sacrifice and unconditional love. Do not take your family for granted. To put it in perspective, how would you react if you got “that phone call” that X was gone forever? What would the last words to that person have been? Did you take the opportunity to apologize or tell them you loved them? Don’t wait. You may not get another chance. No one is perfect…and neither are we.
We make time for what is most important to us
This is so true if we think about it. Whatever we believe most deserves our attention is what we take time to schedule into our life. Good or bad, those things become our priorities. Is having a strong faith important? Is it important to instill a strong faith in our children? Then, we will make time to engage in a faith community to increase and deepen that aspect of our lives. Is our career most important? Then, we will do whatever needs to be done to ensure success. Whatever our passion is will become our priority. And, nothing will distract us from making it happen.
You can’t plow a straight line looking backwards
While it is beneficial to be aware of our past so not to make the same mistakes, if we find we’re always looking backwards, we can never completely move past what has happened to us. We should not forget our past, but obsessing about it and using it as an excuse for not becoming all we can be is unhealthy and does a disservice to ourselves. Our focus should be on the future and what lies ahead in our lives….not dwelling in the past as an excuse to not try and be better. Let’s learn from the past and apply it as part of our plan for the future.
Everyone is fighting a battle
It may not be evident, but everyone is fighting some sort of battle in their life. That’s why it’s important to extend grace to others…especially those who irritate the living daylights out of us. Most people try and put on a good show, or mask their pain to hide it from others. Some people will hide behind fake social media personas and try to make others believe everything is perfect. It’s not. Don’t assume anyone has a perfect marriage, children, job, health or family. They don’t. The sooner we understand we’re all in the same boat, the easier it will be to tame the tongue and extend understanding and grace when we want to lash out at someone.
Those are my six life lessons learned over the last six decades. There are more, but I need to save some for the future. Linking up with Sandee over at Comedy Plus for Awww Monday.