As I approach my 30th birthday (44 days but who’s counting?) I was thinking about what I’ve learned the past 30 years that aren’t true and are true. What did I do wrong? And what did I do right? What REALLY matters in life and am I doing it right? What lies does the world tell us and what lies do we actually believe? I sat down and actually thought about what I have learned. I came up with 5 things that I’ve realized now that I am practically 30 years old.
1) It was never about what I was doing but how much I was receiving.
Whenever you ask someone how are you doing what’s the normal answer you usually get? I get “Im so busy” or something very similar. I’ve realized like most people, through the hard way, that always being busy isn’t good most of the time. I bought into the lie “More is better” rule and the busier I am the better I am off. But I’ve realized busy isn’t always better. At least not for me. I mean in the end what does my busiest even mean besides that I was busy or productive? Do I want people to say at my funeral that I was a busy guy? Is that what I want my life to mount up to? Being busy and always going? Am I the only one that thinks about this stuff?
I’ve learned for me personally that Its not strive a little bit more. Its surrender a little bit more. It’s about receiving a little more love. Not try to earn love. It’s not always about the next moment. It’s about this moment. For me it shouldn’t be about covering up my past or wrong moves. It should be about receiving grace and not worrying about what everyone thinks about me. I am fully loved and fully known. If I put my identity in what everyone thinks I will rise and fall based on their opinions and that is a terrible way to live. Where is the freedom in that? I’ve learned to receive what is good or life giving. And letting go of the bad. It was never about doing more and trying harder.
2) Freedom was never about convenience but inconvenience.
I used to think freedom was doing what I want, when I want, how often I want, with whoever I want. For me It took me 28 years to figure out freedom for me personally is knowing who I am, what I was created to do and then doing that. Not what everyone else thought I should do. I also used to think freedom was living a convenient comfortable life. It was graded on things like: how many vacations I took a year, how much free time I had, how flexible my schedule was and how much I could delegate to people to do things for me that I didn’t want to do anymore. But why do we think life is about watching as much Netflix shows as possible and making life as convenient and comfortable as possible? Who made that rule up? I have found out personally freedom is when I am out of my comfort zone. When I am doing things that scare me. When I am inconvenienced to help others. Freedom is bringing freedom to others. Freedom to me is knowing who I am, what I am created to do and doing that. And then showing others how to do the same. Not letting everyone try to fit into a box that the world has put us in. We all have unique ways to reach people that others could never reach. That I could never reach. You have gifts that I don’t have. And you have a purpose that I can’t fulfill. We are doing a major disservice to the world by playing by the worlds standards and rules by doing just what we are told to do.
Love is inconvenient. Freedom, real freedom believe it or not is inconvenient. Helping others a lot of times is inconvenient. Sharing is inconvenient. Listening to others to only listen is inconvenient and takes time. Growing personally is inconvenient. Stepping outside of our comfort zones is inconvenient. I want inconvenience. Bring on the inconvenience. The more I have that in my life the more freedom I have, the more I am growing and the better off the world is.
3) The Environment we live in is everything.
Growing up in an imperfect home like most people I’ve realized environment is everything. Parents have more effect on our future generation than anyone else. Too many times teachers, mentors, other parents are tasked with trying to help and fix what parents didn’t feel like doing.
I have fears that I will grow up to have anger problems like my father. I fear that I one day will fall short in the parenting department and history will repeat itself. I fear that I was ill equipped to be a great husband and father because of my past. These all are true fears to me.
I have had to set real standards with who I hang out with on a majority basis. Who I hang out with on a regular basis is so important. They mold my thinking because of how they talk, act and treat others. Their opinions shape mine. What they focus on shapes my focus.
I’ve learned to be careful of what I even listen to in my car and other places. I’ve learned I can’t go where I know there will be music that promotes things that I don’t like. Faith comes by hearing. What I listen to, especially in music grows what we put our faith in. If music promotes drinking, getting money and crazy fantasies with women, my mind is now stirred in that direction. At least for me. I can’t tell myself with a straight face those lyrics passing through my head don’t change the way I think and act in some sort of way.
So in short who I hang out with and what I listen to shapes my thinking, actions and what I’m focused on. You notice we listen to sad songs during times of sadness and we listen to upbeat music before we do something fun? Music shapes my mood, thinking and what I’m focused on. I’ve learned to choose wisely.
Also having a great mentor in my life has been huge. Choosing a mentor that is living the life I want to live in the important areas. I am beyond thankful for all the mentors in my life that have poured into me. They didn’t need to but they did. I am grateful.
Also as a side note: We can’t choose our childhood or parents but we can choose our own direction.
4) We all have an idol in our life. The question is what is yours?
I’ll go first. Mine was career, money, women and significance. My idol or what I centered most of my life around so far has been how much money I have, how pretty is the girl I am dating/talking to and what does everyone think of me. My life and choices were always driven around those three things. They were my idol and identity. Our identity or what our idols are determines our behavior.
I was done with that a couple years ago. Is money great? Sure is. But my life isn’t worth anymore than someone else’s because I have a bigger bank account than them. I will take passion over money any day. I will take impact over money any day. I will take freedom over money any day.
Women are beautiful but I no longer orbit myself around them. I’ve learned whether I am single or not I am worthy of love. I’ve learned to respect myself so I can respect women. I’ve learned women are a gift, not a toy or someone to fulfill my fantasy. They are gift and they are a great helper when you find the right one.
Let me ask you this: What are you looking for and where are you looking for it?
(Don’t skip the question because it is the question that unlocks the key to your heart.)
What is your idol? Think about that.
And is that it idol worthy of that title? Is it worth sitting on the throne of your life? Is that idol going to bring you freedom and lasting happiness? I hope you said yes. It took me a while to get that one correct.
5) Appreciate Silence. Don’t run from it.
Silence brings clarity. I personally can’t think when listening to music. My best thinking used to be in the shower. Why? Because I was quiet and still. I used to hate to be alone. I would do anything to avoid silence or to just be alone. If I was alone I had music or the TV on. I couldn’t be alone and silent at the same time. Why? Because I didn’t want to hear what my heart was telling me. I didn’t want to be alone in my thoughts. Especially when things weren’t going right. If I am to give everything I have in this life and do what God put me on this earth to do I need silence often in my life. I need to face what my heart is telling me and I need to meditate on God’s word. I can’t represent someone I don’t spend time with. I can’t hear from God or my heart when Im too busy or having music or the TV on. I can’t sit down and realize what the heck I am doing with my life when I am too busy running.
I don’t need a lot of silence. Fifteen minutes a day is good enough for me when I am really busy. A half hour when I am not crazy. I don’t even need an hour. I’ve learned to appreciate and purposefully seek silence. That has been a gamechanger for me.