29 August 2013

Ten Things I've Learned About Life, The Universe, and Everything: Reflections At 42

Dear Lissy,

I'm celebrating a birthday this week, which invariably causes me to pause and reflect.  Below are a few lessons I've learned since turning 21 half a lifetime ago.  In one way or another, these are truths I either didn't know or didn't apprehend until I was much older.  Who knows?  Maybe one of them will help you through a rough patch in your twenties or even thirties.

God may change your platform, but He never changes your purpose.  
(I Cor 10:31)

Every day is a battle.  
Endure the hardness.  Care for your armor.  Communicate regularly with your CO.  Know your sword. Learn your enemy.  Keep rank. Obey orders. 
Proverbs 31:10-31 is filled with verbs normally reserved for narrating battles.  Remember that others around you are likely weary, wounded, and scarred, just like you, and act accordingly.   Don't whine about the battlefield accommodations here on Planet Earth -- you won't even remember them once you're home.

People cannot change;  they can only make exchanges.  
The great exchange, of course, is salvation, and that is impossible outside of God's grace because the value is ludicrously unequal.  Isaiah 40:31's renew carries the idea of exchange, too. If you ever get the chance to study Biblical Psychology, it's the Put off-Put on principle.   On a much more mundane level, we can't change bad habits or routines, we can only exchange them for better ones.  An exchange typically implies equal value:  figure out how to make the new habit or routine worth more to you than the old one, and you'll succeed. 

If anyone else can make you bad, sad, mad, or glad; they're in control, not you.  
Meekness (strength of purpose under the direction and control of the Holy Spirit) and a quiet heart -- still, confident,  and peaceful no matter the circumstances --  are signs of the power of God on our life.  Precious little can disrupt the woman who's life is characterized by those two qualities. 

The wealthy do three things the poor do not:  Plan, Invest, and Give. 
This is true in every arena from  money to relationships to spiritual fruit to emotional stability.

Doing precedes understanding.  Understanding precedes passion.  Passion precedes expertise.  Expertise exhilarates and empowers.
Just start.  Just do it.  Even if you can't wrap your head around the "why" and especially when you don't feel like it, do it. Understanding will dawn with the doing.  Passion will bud with completion and success.  Pretty soon you're an expert, and there's nothing you'd rather do.  This progression is true across a wide variety of disciplines from math to music to personal devotions.

Information excites, but connections inspire.
Most of us need inspiration more than information.  Information may excite or delight when presented well, but it will rarely change beliefs or behavior.  In contrast, seeing how that information connects to and impacts other things I already know, believe, and do will inspire me to exchange the new information for old bits that aren't working well. Ultimately that exchange will affect my beliefs and actions.

Right relationships are more important than being right. 
Your relationship to God is the most important relationship to keep right. Barring heresy, it's almost always better to nurture a relationship and concede a point graciously.  It's even better to value your relationships so highly you never engage in an argument in the first place.

Positive choices bring satisfaction, negative choices ignite cravings and feed addictions.
Bad choices may bring pleasure, or even happiness, but they'll never satisfy.  You'll always want more.  Good choices satisfy.   Positive decisions may hurt or be uncomfortable initially, but they still bring a certain satisfaction.  It's true with the simplest things in life (food, sleep, purity) as well as the more complex and eternal decisions.

A biblical marriage -- one man and one woman committed to God and each other for life-- has almost limitless power in this world and the next. 
Like the humble atom, a marriage holds tremendous potential.  God chooses to call the wife "help meet" with the same word (ezer) He uses to describe Himself.  That word is only used in those two situations:  a wife and God.  An unfaithful wife, by comparison, is compared to leukemia.  I don't think we understand by half our own power and position.

I blew in on a tropical storm over four decades ago, and we've got another good one blowing tonight. I wish I were up at the lake and could watch the thunderheads and lightning move across the water. Instead, I'll unplug my poor 'puter and head to bed.

Hugs and kisses,

P.S.  I've also learned that salted dark chocolate is one of the best ways to satisfy a sweet tooth.   That didn't make the cut, but it is good to know!

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