Life Lessons at 56 1/2 (PART 1)...

I woke up on July 9th , walked into our kitchen and announced to my kids, Rhesa and Ryland, “Today is my ½ birthday, where’s my celebration?” “Come on…I’m 56 and a half and I want a party.” They looked at me as if I was “one fry short of a Happy Meal”. ☺ I sounded, like a little kid, I’m sure.

Of course they knew I was joking but there was a sense of seriousness as well. Aging. It’s on my mind…a lot. There was a period in my life when I was always waiting for the next age mile-marker; couldn’t wait until I was 13, I would be a teenager; 16, I could drive; 21, I would be an adult; 26 or so, get married and have children and then life would start. Now the age milestones have come and gone too quickly. I have more life behind me than I do in front of me. (As, I typed those words I realized that theologically speaking that statement is incorrect, but earthly speaking, my days are numbered.) I cannot go back and redo or undo the life that has already been lived.

I don’t mean for this to sound depressing but it is a realization that I am grappling with on a regular basis; life is short, brief, temporary, fleeting, minuscule… “a vapor”… you get the point. The longer you live the shorter life gets. I am beginning to understand how King Solomon of the Bible, must have felt as he was nearing the end of his life. Not that I feel like I am nearing the end of my life…hopefully I have a good 30 plus years to go ☺.

Solomon, left us a pretty candid memoir  in Ecclesiastes, of what he had learned in all his years of living. He details for us how one can have it all and still waste it all. He shows us how a life lived without God, turns out, empty, pointless and vain. In a sense he gives us pointers on what not to do and also what to do.

One of the many books that I am working my way through right now is one by Bob Russell called, “After 50 Years of Ministry: 7 Things I’D Do Differently and 7 Things I’D Do The Same”. This book is such an encouragement from a man who has been in ministry almost as long as I have been alive. It has some really good and Godly advice. This book got me to thinking, “If I had the opportunity to share what I’ve learned thus far in my short life, what are some things I would share?” Well, here are just a few of my thoughts. If you and I were talking face to face, I would transparently share some of these life lessons…

I would:

1. Laugh More Loudly, (Pardon the grammar):

There are so many opportunities to laugh and see the humor in life. We unfortunately let the seriousness of circumstances drain from us the comedy that is right in front of us. I remember one morning I was getting dressed to go to work at the church where I served in a new position as Outreach Pastor. I was in a hurry, as usual, trying not to be late. I was frustrated that morning as I picked up my new dress shoes. They were loafers that had two tassels on the front. Yes it was the style back then. I was frustrated because the tassels had fallen off on one of the shoes and the other shoe only had one tassel left. In fact, all of my “tasseled” shoes were missing a tassel or two. I remember complaining to Robyn about  how they don’t make things they the way they used too and that I was going to return those shoes and get my money back. As I tugged and tugged and tugged on my one loyal tassel that had remained attached, trying to figure out how the others had fallen off, my then 3 year old son Ray J said… “No Daddy, you have to bite ‘em off”! What? Bite ‘em off? Are you kidding me? Ray J had been the culprit the whole time. How funny is that. I didn’t think so at the time.

Looking back, this was comedy unfolding before my very eyes. A moment to laugh. A moment to see humor. A moment to embrace the unpredictable, yet funny circumstances of life. My advice to you is laugh more, LAUGH LOUDLY. Don’t worry about what others think. Enjoy the free comedy life brings your way.

I would:

2. Cry More Freely:

Tears express a range of emotions, not just sadness. Tears unveil feelings of sorrow and grief, anger and pain, joy and happiness, fear and surprise, relief and desire. Tears are a physical representation of the complexity of passions within. Many times we hide our tears. We bury them in our pillows at night. We force them to retreat and stay locked behind the doors of our eyes. We wipe them away quickly. We are afraid of them. They make us feel vulnerable and exposed.

But I have learned over the years the value of tears, the importance of crying…freely. Openly allowing others in, to see where we hurt, where we love, where we dream, where we live. Allowing our tears to tell a story we would normally keep to ourselves. Crying, uncovers the hidden, dismantles the walls and invites others to be a part of our experience. Don’t hold back those tears, let them flow.

It’s interesting to me, but the first two points, Laugh More Loudly and Cry More Freely say a lot about who you are. What makes you tick; what makes you hurt, what makes you mad,  what makes you…you. Laughing and crying expose you. They reveal. I believe that’s why most people hide and temper these expressions; keeping them in check, so as to not say too much about what’s happening on the inside. I believe God uses laughter and tears to connect us not only to Him but to each other. So, let the laughter ensue and the tears flow.

Next time I will share the other four lessons of life I have learned. I would:

3. Risk More Often,

4. Love More Fiercely

5. Share More Honestly

6. Take Sin More Seriously