To the Young Folk and Old Folk. Maybe just folks, in general. Birthday musings from a middle-old folk.

I remember being 17, driving around in my car, singing Tim McGraw's "My Next 30 Years" and thinking, "Wow, that guy's old and SO WISE."  Now, I don't consider 30 old by any stretch, but I would like to take a moment to celebrate the ending of an era and the turning of a page.

For my 40th birthday, I'm giving you all a gift, a little thing I absolutely hate - unsolicited advice.  If you're younger than me, think of this as mentoring.  (YOU'RE WELCOME.)  If you're older than me, feel free to correct and admonish gently, but I'd obviously prefer a hearty "Hear, hear!"  I'm an introvert, a stewer (of thoughts, not soup), a chronic noticer, an over-feeler (in emotion, not physical touch, which lands dead last in my love language inventory), and a wannabe life coach (just kidding, I don't want to do that).  At 40, I feel ever-so-slightly qualified to comment on the world around me.  And so, as a gift to myself and my over-active brain, I'm composing this disorganized data dump of semi-ranting/perhaps-useful/not-at-all-exhaustive advice I've collected and/or learned the hard way.  For your reading pleasure?  Do with it what you will. 

Don't allow anyone to donate their first impressions of others to you.
Seriously, let it go in one ear and out the other or shut it down before it begins.  If someone you know tries to tell you about someone you don't, just turn your ears off.  Form your own opinions, especially if the intel you're getting is negative.  And also, don't be the person that slanders someone else.  We all have bad days.  Come on now.

Don't trust your own first impressions.  No matter how spot-on you think you are.

I have always prided myself in my first impressions.  (Red flag.) I think I can nail someone's character after just one interaction.  And I don't really allow for re-do's in light of my self-proclaimed first impression superpower.  I'm happy to say that I have given up on this and had many redemptive second impressions.  Thank the Lord for second chances.  I'm sure *I've* needed those over the years.

Spend 100% less time worrying about what other people think about you.

I give you this word as one I think I will struggle with for my entire life.  Literally no one is thinking about you.  And if they are, then what?  You might be misrepresented?  Oh well.  Right? What's going to happen?  Literally nothing.  Someone thinks wrongly?  That's on them.  Let it go. (Says the woman who obsesses over this very thing.  Lord, help me stop!)

Stop talking yourself out of living life.

I am basically afraid of everything.  Speaking from experience, this isn't good for you (for about a million different reasons).  There's  a life rich with opportunity and people and experiences waiting to be lived.  Don't let fear be the reason you missed out, on anything, large or small.

Laugh often and loudly.  

Laughing is a great coping mechanism for a world gone cray.  Highly recommend.  And I also think we should be able to laugh at ourselves.  It's not all so serious.  Relax.

Recognize the small things as the marvels that they truly are.  

Have you ever held a baby and thought, "Man, this is incredible.  This is an entirely new person right here in my arms?"  That should be our reaction.  We should equally marvel at tiny ants carrying giant loads, rainbows, germinating seeds, the circulatory system, Saharan dust storms, yawning, the benefit of music to our brains, conveyance of light...shall I continue?  It's all amazing.  Don't take these things for granted.  Right down to our next breath.  

Be flexible in most things, but stand your ground on the important things.

We are all differently convicted on things that, at the end of the day, don't matter that much.  (I won't give examples.)  In these things, extend grace.  Then there are the things that do matter.  In these things, stand firm.  

Parenting:  Do your best to emulate God's amazing grace and perfect justice in tandem.

(It can't be all grace and no justice.  Or vice versa.)

Paranoia isn't a good look.  

If you've ever wondered if there was a big conspiracy about [xyz], I'm going to just go out on a limb and guess that there probably isn't.  I'm not even talking about political or societal things, I'm talking about personal relationships.  No one is out to get you.  They just aren't.

The log in your eye is WAY bigger than your neighbor's speck.  Mind ya own business.

Oh, friends, if there were a most important tip, it would be this one.  I am a professional at pointing out the sins of others, and most often, the things that drive me crazy in someone else are usually what I need to deal with in my own life.  For example, I get angrier and angrier that someone is angry about something stupid.  See how dumb and ironic that is?  

Encouragement costs nothing to give.  If you notice something nice, say so.  If something nice isn't obvious, keep looking.  

Second to last in my love language inventory is "Words of Affirmation," but I will tell you what, most people (aside from yours truly) genuinely love these things.  Speak kindness and encouragement when you can.  Notice little things and big things alike and say it aloud.  When it's hard to find redeeming qualities in someone, keep looking.  This was an exercise a friend and I undertook in high school, to find nice things to think and say about the harder-to-love folks in our circles, and it has stuck with me.  It changes your perspective to look for good instead of dwelling on the negative.  LITERALLY NO ONE WANTS TO BE AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME.

Weigh your words.

We think everyone wants to hear what we have to say (says the woman posting a blog of unsolicited advice), but I would caution you to weigh your words, and, at times, hold them completely.  Being proud of being the loud and obnoxious is foolishness.  The Bible has so much to say about words. "Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.  Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." Proverbs 17:27-28

Be quick to forgive.

Unforgiveness is poison in your life.  Forgive and move on.  

Read your Bible.

If you are a Christian, this is your duty and privilege.  It is your literal lifeline.  We have so much to glean, and we need to know what it says.  "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17  If you are not a Christian, I dare you to open up the book of Mark and give it a read through.  It's life-changing and of utmost importance.

I have no doubt there's more, but I think that's enough.  (More than.)  Thanks for indulging my brain dump of unnecessary musings. And thanks for the many, many birthday wishes.  I am indeed a blessed lady.


Anonymous said...

That is all good advice for every age. Good job.

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