Read that carefully, now. I didn’t say I am old…I said “I’m getting old.”
I’ll turn 53 this year. That makes me older than some, younger than others. Kind of right in the middle, I suppose. Yet, with the constant news that a friend or acquaintance – my age or younger – has died, I suppose I have been face-slapped with the reality that every day is a grace-gift of God. Of course, the grace-gift of waking every morning and living throughout the day has always been present, even when I was a child. I just didn’t have have any friends then who died of cancer or massive heart attacks.
There is something, though, of which I have become more and more painfully aware…I am one selfish person. Lest you think this is a personal confession followed with sordid details, please know that you, too, are selfish. We all are to some degree. Some handle it better than others, but know this…the very prideful, narcissistic seed inside our hearts and souls is the very reason for everything that gives us heartache in this life.
“I deserve this.”
“I have rights.”
“I want that, so I should be able to get it.”
“I have hurt feelings.”
“I want you to change.”
“I don’t love you anymore.”
“I’m happy now.”
The one, common element in all of those statements is I.
When something happens that negates those statements…we don’t get what we want, or someone doesn’t change, or we’re not happy…we get bitter, resentful, angry, and mean.
As I get older, I do not want to be someone who is so self-centered that I lose the joy of living and loving. So, whether you’re 23, 53, or 93, here are 7 things that I want to focus on as I grow up:
1. It’s not about me. It’s really not. There are many aspects to relationships or life-events, and to focus solely on what I want is selfish and prideful. I want to take time and make the effort to think about others.
2. Things are not as bad as they seem. I can get real negative and opinionated and think the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. And, that’s because things are happening around me that I fundamentally disagree with. Or, things aren’t what they used to be. While I can disagree with others, or have issues with events, trends, and policy, I don’t need to lose hope.
3. Be flexible. Things change. Interests change. Generations will have a different focus or expression. As I get older, I must learn to be flexible. I’m not saying that my values or ethics must change. I’m just saying that there may be value in what others – who may or may not be like me – think.
4. Share my wisdom…if asked. Experience is a great teacher. I can be a deep well of knowledge for someone who is going through something in their life that I’ve already experienced. But, I’m not going share that knowledge unless it’s asked for. Sometimes people need to experience things on their own to learn what I may already know.
5. Handle life well. As I go through the day-to-day business of life, I’ll encounter the things that can cause suffering and pain, be it emotional or physical. I must handle it. My actions and attitude as I endure these various encounters will speak volumes to those around me.
6. Enjoy life. I can choose to experience all that is around me, or I can choose to let it affect me in negative ways. I must enjoy the family, friends, and activities around me. I have to be active in that.
7. Live for the glory of God. As a Believer, everything in my life must be about living and loving so that God gets the glory for it, not me. If I serve, it’s because I serve for God’s glory. If I love, it’s because God wants me to love. If I treat someone with dignity and respect – even though I disagree with them – I do it because God has called me to do that. I’m being obedient to God because He was all those things to me and gave me grace in the midst of it.
Don’t misread my intention here. These are not 7 ways that will fix my life. I think, though, that recognizing the prideful streak that runs right down the middle of my heart will go a long way in making the most of every day that God gives me to live. In doing so, I can make the focus on God, not me.