Thirty Things I Have Learned As I Turn Thirty
At first turning thirty was kind of depressing, but as I have thought and reflected on it, the whole idea really does not seem so bad. Age is just a number right?
Douglas Adams always has a swell way of describing things, he said “you live and you learn, at any rate you live.” This marks my thirtieth birthday, and while I have done a lot of living, there are a few things I have learned along the way also. Today, I want to share with your thirty of those things.
- Grace really is an amazing thing, I guess that is why John Newton wrote the song, and we would be hard pressed to find a better word to describe it. As amazing as grace is, experiencing it is that much more so, and giving it more than that. A lot of grace has been sent my way, and I have realized that if we want to convince other people of God’s grace, it is vital that we recognize and embrace that grace for ourselves. At the same time you can never have too much grace. As humans I think our natural leaning is judgment and punishment, so to have too much grace, in my mind, it just does not seem possible. God has had a lot of grace with me, A LOT, so why should I not have the same when it comes to other people?
- Throwing vinyl albums out a window in the midst of a storm is a very bad idea.
- Bad days often seem to outnumber the good days, but that just makes the good days even more valuable. The world did not end yesterday, and chances are it will not today either. Life could always been worse. I live in a first world country, my needs are constantly met, God has given me ministry, provided awesome friends, I have a college degree, am reasonable healthy and most importantly my soul is saved, life is not that awful in terms of everything! At the very least I did not wake up in Hell this morning that is enough of a reason to give thanks!
- The biological family I lack sure as heck is made up for by the spiritual family I have. My friends are my family, and one of the best parts of being me. Each one of them God has used in my life, and what we all have in common is Christ. There have been many laughs, tears, and moments of growth with my friends, I am so thankful for each and every one of them.
- Dogs are not all bad after all, sometimes all it takes is to meet the right Golden Retriever in the right context to change your mind on the species. Once upon a time I was taking a stroll on a lovely winter’s evening when a hell hound straight out of Baskerville attacked me viciously. Needless to say I fought him away, but I had lost my dignity, or what little that still remained. Since, I had seen dogs as the enemy, but that very nice Golden Retriever redeemed them for me.
- Ministry does not fulfill you. Back when in moments when I was homeless, or not really doing much in life, I believed that once I had ministry, opportunities to speak, to teach, to disciple, life would be good, and I would be serving God the way He wanted me. That is a lie. Spending the past couple years preaching, teaching and discipling, has been a very draining business, and if you are doing it for the right reasons, there is not a lot of glory to come from doing so. Even the past seven months I have been speaking somewhere every week, and while I love serving God in this capacity, I would not have stuck with it if I were doing so for the wrong reasons.
- Nothing apart from Christ fulfills you. Blah, blah, blah, stupid Christian buzz words, common believer’s clichés, and why I hate to say it, I know the statement is all to true. Relationships, they will not fulfill you. Listen, I have dated, I have been in relationships with the opposite sex, and you feel just as empty with them as you do without them, if Christ is not the source of fulfillment. You are probably saying “yeah right” or “Christ will be my focus”, but often it is being put to the test that shows hard bad we can fail. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was from dating somebody where the relationship did not stay focused on Christ. She was cute, and really dug me, so I figured why not? None of those are never good reasons when considering someone to date, they are reasons, but I would not say good ones. Anyway, the lesson, I learned by the end of it that it was better to be alone with Christ than with somebody without Him. It was there that I ended it, unfortunately I came to this conclusion the night of my school’s Christmas banquet, so maybe choose better time, but since then what I learned has been true, and even though at times I get lonely, in the end it is something I hold onto.
- Never give a girl you are dating nicknames such as jumbo tron, bulldog, scofflaw, Trunchbowl, captain fussy trousers from the ninth quadrant of the annoying galaxy, clay face, just plain woman, or place Darth before their first name. You think this would be an easy one, but I learn the hard way.
- Making a red head angry, especially one from the south, is not wise. The kick, punch, bruise, and inflict pretty much ever force of darkness the can possibly muster up upon you. Upsetting the children of a red head, especially one from the south, is doubly unadvised.
- We can know something and not feel it. C.S. Lewis said “Faith is the are of holding onto what your reason once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” Emotion is not the cause of our faith, but it can be manifestation of it. I do not always feel truth, but I know it, and that realization makes all the difference.
- God’s provision is never going to cease, He has provided a billion times before, and He will provide a million times again, this is something I all too easily forget. It has been a privilege to see the Lord meet my needs in so many ways, from pants, to toothbrushes, to cars, and financially. He has never and will never stop.
- A lifetime of pain is worth it when you have to hope of an eternity without it, and I definitely have the hope of a pain free eternity. Not a day goes by that I do not read Revelation 21 to remind me of this. Whatever happens to us now is made a little better knowing that in eternity it will all be okay.
- Writers of comic strips say more in four panels than what many do in four books. Comics, like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes authentically illustrate life, the experiences, and the emotions that anybody who is a human can relate to, as those who are writing them use the medium to express their worldview
- You can go a longer way making friends with children than you can enemies. While it is funny to annoy little kids, it is a great deal more fun when you have their affection.
- It takes around thirty five minutes to learn how to take a screen shot. For those of you who do not know, just how the power and volume up button on your phone at the same time. This will do it.
- Wes Anderson’s films are more than just movies, they are art. Before being introduced to Wes Anderson my idea of a good film was Space Jam and then I saw The Royal Tenenbaums, with this the game changed. His movies are as heartfelt as they are unique. Wes writes, directs, does music design, and even picks out the color schemes. My personal favorite is Rushmore, but they are all good in their own ways, give his films a go, you might thing the same! In a world full of superhero films, remakes, movies based on books or television shows, prequels, sequels, or whatever else, Wes Anderson is a breath of fresh air.
- Singleness does not have to be a curse and in many ways is a blessing. Sure, I would love to get married, but that cannot be what my life is about. I always say if I get married, not when. Being a Christian does not automatically guarantee you a spouse, and it is hard to be content with that, I struggle with on a regular basis in fact. Christianity fiercely pushes the idea of relationships, making it seem as if you are of less value when single. Every Bible college or camp I have ever gone to there is always that moronic joke where “Bible” is changed to “Bridal”. The fact is, we are just as important and valuable single as we are married. Both Paul and Jesus were single and look at their ministries! Sure, they were killed in the end, but that is just a minor detail. Paul wrote a while freaking passage on how those who are single can serve just as well as those who are married! This is not to say God will not provide us with spouses, but He very well might, for me though there is still a lot of contentment to be learned, and whether I do or not have one should not be how my walked with God is determined.
- God may not always give us what we want, but He always provides us with what we need. Sure, I am not where I want to be, doing all the things I want to be doing, but God is providing, and each day His provision becomes more evident in a multitude of ways.
- Stephen King said “if you love something, it should not be a burden to do it” and I am becoming more convinced of this every day. Whether it is writing, speaking, studying the Bible, or even just being a Christian in general, if I say that I love doing something, there really should be no trouble to do it.
- We do have have to fight for freedom, Christ made us free, we just have to live in our freedom.
- That one of the best life goals is to just get through today, if I can just get through today that is good enough for me. We are not promised tomorrow, even the next minute, so when it comes to life worrying about what is next, being consumed by what is to come, is a good way to ruin it.
- Long term plans change a lot, more often than not. When I was nineteen my plan was to finish New Tribes in two years, be married in three, be at MTC in four, have a child and have a place full time on the mission field in five. So far none of that has happened, and my life is better for it, because His plans are better than mine. I have found a lot of security in know that what He has planned for me is far greater than anything I could have planned for myself.
- While people can be very predictable, they are still capable of many surprises.
- Clothes and outward appearances are not important, but it is nice when they feel right, to develop your own sense of style. As I have matured my wardrobe has as well. At one point all I would wear was sport coats with track jackets and Converse All Stars, whereas now I adorn myself in Oxford shirts, bowties, and leather shoes. Clothing should not define us, but it many ways it describes us, so I see them as an opportunity to provide further definition of the person within.
- The transforming power of Christ is real, and just as I have been transformed in many ways, and innumerable amount of people have experienced the same. Change as people is good. God has brought me a long way from where I began, it all started in Tennessee, now of all places Iowa is where my life has taken me. Along the way it has been hard and the challenges have been many, but it has all served in my process of sanctification, salvation was only the beginning and glorification is the end, I am glad Christ has changed me from who I used to be. The Hobbit is a story of transformation. Over course of the plot Bilbo goes from being a hobbit to lives for comfort to one who sees life is about something far great. He was transformed, he valued what mattered, and became disillusioned by what did not. At the end of the journey Gandalf says “you are not the hobbit you once were”, will the same be said of me and you? Not that we are not the hobbit, but that we are not the people we used to be. At the end of our life we will have allowed Christ to drastically change us from who we used to be, or will our lives look no different?
- Each year it becomes more apparent that the more I learn it seems the less I know. Which is good the day I become deluded and believe I know everything, that is probably the time to call it quits. Usually, it is the people who believe they have it all figured out that are usually the furthest from it. There is so much more to learn on this short journey called life, and even more to realize I do not and will likely never know as well.
- Some battles are just not worth fighting any longer. I remember at one time in my life I believe it was impossible to co-exist anyone who theologically disagreed with me. Oh, how dumb I was, I mean I still am dumb, but my younger self was a little more so. The only requirement for being a believer is belief in fundamental truths of the Gospel, not agreeance with issues of theology and philosophy. Obviously, I am not talking about heresy or false teaching, but in the context of relationships with other Christians. Looking in my life now, I have several friends and people I have partnered in ministry in whom I disagree with on some issues, and them me, but being in Christ, He makes it possible for peace, for us to serve together even if on some things we do not agree. The war has gone on for too long, and I am tired of fighting battles that are not worth fighting. If Paul told the people at Corinth to get along because of theological differences, I can do the same regarding people in which I have disagreements.
- I hate lists, they are slightly tedious to make.
- Read good literature, watch important films, and listen to well-made music, because when it comes down to it there are not a lot in these categories, most of them are old, a lot of what is truly great has already been done, but there are a few new to be discovered if you want to.
- Each day is a new page in the story of my life, I can choose what to write. I have no idea what is next, what things may be in store, all I know is that walking with God, right here, right now, is all that I am accountable for.
Here is to thirty years, I am thankful for all the people I have met and the many wonderful experiences! May the rubber of my theology always hit the road of life!