10 & 33

Today is the first day of school for students where I live.  I know that technically it is still summer, but once school begins it feels like the page has been turned and summer has come and gone.  This past summer I have celebrated both a birthday and an anniversary.  I am currently 33 years old and have been married for 10 years.

Anyway, I thought I would reflect on a few things I have learned over the years. Here are 4 lessons I have learned and am learning.

1. What I thought I had figured out I didn’t and probably still don’t.- In some ways it seems like my education on life is moving backwards.  I once had it all figured out, or so I thought.  Then, as I  I began to mature, I started to understand that maybe I don’t have it all figured out, just slightly more than those around me.  This trend of realizing I know less and less has continued until eventually I reached the point where I am now, in awe of how little I know and overwhelmed by just how many things there are out there to know.  I probably should not have started a list of things I have learned by proclaiming how little I know, but maybe this will serve as a disclaimer of some sort.

2. It keeps getting better.- I really think my life keeps getting better and better.  Learning to persevere has been key.  I have seen repeatedly that hard times have eventually yielded to things being even better than before the onset of the difficult times.  This has held true in my marriage, my career, my ministry, and in my relationships in general.

3. life goes fast.- I feel like I am constantly aware of how quickly time passes.  All of my life I have heard people warn of how fleeting time is. I never doubted them, but I also never understood just how right they were/are.  I don’t know if most people think about this as much as I do, but sometimes I almost feel like life is moving so quickly that I am just sitting and watching it whirl by.  My wife and I will sometimes say things like, “can you believe we have been married 10 years?” or, “can you believe we are parents and have 3 kids?”   In a lot of ways I feel like I should still be in college or finishing up high-school or something. But nope, I am 33 and married with children.  I am happy to be where I am, but shocked at how right the “it goes so fast” people have been.

4. People have a profound affect on people.- I think we constantly underestimate the impact we have on others and the impact they have on us.  When I look back at my life it is amazing what a significant role relationships have played.  Where I am and who I am is in a significant way, the result of who I have been around.  I can think of numerous people whose influence on me has been monumental.  These formative relationships aren’t limited to parents and mentor types. My life has been significantly impacted, even just recently, by people who I have had very limited contact with.  It is a mistake to ignore how immense our effect on one another is.

So there you have it.  33 years of life and 10 years of marriage have taught me 4 things.

lovely

Yesterday I heard my 3 year old daughter sing “Jesus loves me.”  I love listening to her belt out a tune.  I just stood and listened to her sing the familiar song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”  She was doing awesome, she had the right melody and all the right words.  The only time she had any trouble was when she got to the part that ordinarily affirms Jesus’ love and the line “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me…” is repeated.  At that point she began to sing a less confident version, “I guess Jesus loves me, I guess Jesus loves me…”  I laughed to myself over how similar the two sound and how easily the mistake could be made.

After thinking about it for a bit, though, the mistake became less cute and more sad.  My little girl’s rendition of the song is probably a more accurate portrayal of most people’s faith in God’s love for them. As Christians we talk about God’s love a great deal.  “Smile, God loves you!”  We see it on Sunday School material, t-shirts, pencils, and bumper stickers. And it’s true, God does love you! It is easy to proclaim God’s love for someone else.  But when it comes to God loving us, we aren’t so quick on the draw.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.”  I have a theory. If the enemy can place doubts in our mind about God’s love for us, then he can keep us from genuinely loving others and God.  “We love because He first loved us.”  My love for God and others flows out of the fact that God loves me.  Once I begin to doubt God’s love for me the flow is stopped.  I am left to offer God and others my own love; a shallow love that I have to muster up and is based on my will power.  The only thing needed to short cicuit this whole flow of love is a little doubt in our own “lovability.”  Comparing yourself to others, dwelling on past mistakes or even a little false humility can be enough to raise questions in one’s mind about just how lovable they are to God.  No matter how it gets in, once it is in, doubt will rob you of  enjoying the fact that God loves YOU. It will also keep you from being able to respond to His love by loving Him in return and loving others. However, we have authentic, genuine, overflowing love to share when, in faith, we confidently accept that, “yes, Jesus loves me.

Why do I love? Because He first loved ME!