22 truths that took me 42 years to learn… and, by all projections, a lifetime to perfect:
1. Get your sleep, eat well, go for a walk. These are the best first steps to solving what ails you. If nothing else, it puts your mind in a better place to tackle the problem(s).
2. Pay attention to the words of those who stammer, stutter or blush because they are spoken with courage.
3. Embrace your tears. Those who know me know I cry almost daily. One friend has taken to calling me “Tina Tears.” Their involuntary appearance STILL takes me by surprise and, truthfully, sometimes embarrasses me. But I’ve learned to welcome them. I was marked with them in my early 20s when I received Christ. In welcoming these tears, I’ve discovered that they are a good gift. Tears detect beauty, break down walls, open the heart, and speak grace. They adjust my eyes to see what Jesus wants me to see. When your tears make a surprise appearance, acknowledge this good gift.
4. Welcome interruptions. Like tears, most gifts from God are not the things we planned or expected. The things that were/are an interruption in my life: my husband, my kids, my friends, and, well, 42 showed up kind of suddenly… I can’t rightly say what good thing in my life wasn’t born out of interruption, even the things which initially seemed troubling. So welcome it all as God’s benevolence.
5. Banish offence. I believe it is possible to live a victorious life if we rid ourselves of offence. To qualify the term, I’m referring to when someone insults you either directly or indirectly, whether real or perceived. Root it out with prayer, kill it with kindness, walk through life unscathed and free.
6. Love others by keeping a record of rights. We know from 1 Corinthians 13 that when we keep an account of offences it is unloving behaviour. We like to either hold onto our offences and nurse them and/or throw them at others like a weapon once we’ve accumulated a good number of them. Is it possible to love by keeping track of, placing importance on, and speaking of the good things we see in others? I tried it. Suddenly, my husband is the most interesting man in the world, my kids are angels, I love Monday mornings, I have the best friends a girl could ask for, and I am saying hello to strangers on the street. Gratitude is the outcome when we keep track of the good things.
7. Practice good gossip. Get caught talking well about other people. (That Karen is so amazing. Bob sure throws a great party. Don’t you just LOVE our pastor? And so on.) Start a new trend in the workplace, build the joy in your home, revitalize your church through good gossip.
8. Asking for help is an act of generosity. Be specific with your needs and those who love you will thank you that you’ve let them in.
9. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” Guidelines for life and social media from Romans 12:15-16.
On parenting (teens)
10. “Good for you!” “Use your words,” and “Play nicely” remain solid parenting principles well into the teen years.
11. Your teens actually do want to spend time with you. Force adventures on them, even if they resist. Do things together that make you hold your breath, use your muscles, tempt fate (within reason), laugh out loud. You’ve all just received a shot of perspective and joy. Now repeat.
12. You are the boundary your teen needs to push against. Confirm for your teens that their home is a place where are they are safe to wrestle and doubt. Parents, this is Part II of your labour pains. There will be great rejoicing at the end of it.
13. Parents of teens, you will need to add a sense of humour to your arsenal. No doubt about it, your kids will laugh at you, but if you join in, it means they are laughing with you. Believe me, they’ll show you just how funny you didn’t know you are!
14. Making the bed together is the best first thing to do each day. Bravo, you’ve accomplished something together. Now go, rock this day. It’s the two of you against the world. I also highly recommend unmaking it together at the end of the day, if you catch my drift…
15. Dissatisfaction is never the other person’s fault, it belongs to you. Once you identify this truth, you can save/build/enjoy your marriage by ending the blame cycle and attending to the necessary changes in your own heart.
16. This one is for the wives. I’ve learned this little tip over time. (Don’t tell J-M, but it works like a charm). Whatever question you want to ask of your husband, ask it three times. This is what it takes to get: 1) his attention, 2) the jokes out of the way, and 3) his real response. Try it and report back to me. We might be onto something.
17. Lighten up. If I may generalize, I think this is one of the brilliant things a man adds to a marriage – an easy going perspective. Women can place such importance on their deep thoughts and over-processing the minutiae. If men and women are polar opposites in their thinking, perhaps the truth can be found in the happy medium. Emphasis on the happy.
18. Faith is our spiritual muscle we must activate and exercise or else we become ineffective and unproductive. Train like an athlete. Digest good nutrients (truth). Work it off with strength training (service). Don’t get spiritually obese by only taking it in and never putting it to use. Don’t run yourself dry by always serving and never replenishing your reserves. And, just as importantly, rest once a week.
19. Worship God completely. Like, use every part of you – your voice, your strong legs, your wingspan, your thoughts, your heart, your eyes, your touch, your gut – to love and praise him. Discover how he wants to heal and restore every inch of you.
20. Thank God for the activists. They increase our proximity to the heart of God. They help us see and love the poor, the needy, the abandoned, the destitute, the lonely. So next time you see an activist coming, don’t squirm in your EZ chair, receive their good intentions and consider how you might take action with them.
21. Trade in Karma for Grace. Jesus paid what you owe. Best deal ever.
Final Word (For Now)
22. Seek after beauty. I have spent the past two years trying to understand what beauty is, where it comes from, where it can be found, who owns it. I can say with great joy that there are very real answers to these important questions. They all lead to a Creator God who decided that beauty is the way in which he would communicate his message of love and truth. Look for beauty, find God.
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