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Posts Tagged ‘Mistakes’

Working away in my garage, humming to a song on the radio, I heard the words “Dear Younger Me, if I could tell you everything that I have learned so far …”

We all know what it is to ponder where our life would be if only we had known when we were young, what we know now.

That reflective introspective moment quickly pivoted my thoughts away from me, when I heard the line “a smoother ride” and was instantly in a truck, just the day before.

I had been accompanying my daughter to our mechanic, who was to look over the truck that she wished to purchase. The entire ride, wait for the mechanics diagnosis, and drive to return the truck back to it’s seller, I wanted to place my hands on her shoulders, force her to make eye contact with me, and tell her (sternly)

DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY! Go purchase a nice, safe, compact car.

But, I couldn’t, I can’t.

You see, my parents, whose failings I could fill a lined piece of paper (and, as parents, we could all fill an entire notebook with our own failings), did one thing I have grown to respect beyond their failings … they let me chose.

Though not church-goers, they fully supported my personal faith with Christ, even attending and celebrating my baptism as a teen.

They welcomed me home with open arms when I quit university (something I now regret).

Then, two months later, despite still owing student loan money, I decided to take a trip to Mexico with a friend (I am pretty certain that they probably almost severed their tongues from biting them) yet they never said a negative word.

They also said not one discouraging word when, at nineteen, I declared that I was getting married. (not sure I could withhold from voicing my discouraging words, if I were in their shoes).

they let me chose …

Over and over, they let me make my own decisions. I have had no one to blame when I blew it, other than myself. I have been the self-scholar of my life’s choices, learning from each one.

It’s not that they never gave me advice, but that that is all they did … gave advice, then loved me with an unconditional love, whether I chose their advice, or choose my own way.

God is the original model of what it is to parent this way. He has given us his advice, knowing exactly what the consequences of our choices will be, then he lets us choose, while loving us, unconditionally.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Though I would love to be able to write a letter of what to do, and what not to, or to throw up a stop sign whenever my younger self is about to make a life-altering decision that I may not like the consequences of down the road …

I am who I am today because of all my choices,

good, bad, and even the yet to be determined.

And so, though I want more than anything a smoother ride for my daughter than I might have had, I also know that she needs to make the choice as to what her ride will be …

even if it is a truck.

“the choices that you’ll make
cause they’re the choices that made ma
and even though I love this crazy life
sometimes I wish it was a smoother ride,
dear younger me …

every mountain, every valley
through each heart ache you will see
every moment brings you closer
to who you were meant to be.”

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I have been on a bit of a marriage roll lately, and the more I am researching for one post, the more interesting information and blogs I have been encountering.

The guest post of today comes from a blogger who I literally happened upon by accident, while having a ‘brain break’ on Pinterest, after much marriage research, and came across a post called 16 Ways I Blew My Marriage, that I just had to open and read.

Dan Pearce is the author of the blog, Single Dad Laughing. His main subject (other than himself-the usual main topic for most of us who blog) is his son Noah, and you will see beautiful photos of the father and son pair. He has experienced marriage and divorce, and I thought his experience of both might just give those of us in the midst of the marriage minefield a fresh perspective … on the things we do (and maybe shouldn’t) and the things we do not do (and maybe should).

It is worth the read!

Carole

 

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As a parent who believes in prayer, praying for my kids has been a regular thing since even before they were conceived.

One of the realities of prayer is that it is really more about me, than the one who I am praying for, as I do agree with C.S. Lewis who said, “prayer changes me” in this clip from his Shadowlands story.

But this is not something that I was fully aware of when I was a young mom. In the early days of motherhood I prayed, anticipating that God would grant my every request. Much like Santa with my gift list at Christmas time, I think that I subconsciously believed that if I was obedient to Him (kind of the equivalent to “being a good little girl”) then God would reward me by meeting my every wish and desire that was expressed in my prayers to Him. I may have even believed that I deserved to have my prayers answered.

When my children were young I prayed that they would grow up healthy, would make wise choices, and that they would be opened to God’s leading in their future decisions, especially surrounding their choice of friends, career and their choice of future spouse. These are all good, and I am not saying that I do not wish those things for them, but that I now wish even more for them.

The reality is that character rarely is developed without the exposure to temptation, life is not fully appreciated without the threat of or reality of loss, some of the best choices in life are made on the heels of the stupidest mistakes in our lives, love is rarely long lasting without enduring the struggles, and dependence on God rarely comes without a season of questioning His ways.

Really, the best things in our lives have often been born out of disaster, death and despair. Failures, mistakes and heartbreaks have a way of opening our eyes to what really matters to us, they have a way of drawing us to cling to God like nothing else.

I don’t pray for disaster for our kids, but I also have lived long enough to know that the greatest growth in life can come from the greatest difficulties. I also have lived long enough to know that life is hard, mistakes get made and difficulties will come to everyone in time.

Now I pray that they might have strength, grace and courage when the rough stuff of life happens, and that they might grow closer to their Heavenly Father through it all.

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With a title like this one, I know of at least one person who will read this blog post!

I have been married to my hubby for almost twenty-three years, and yes, he has taught me a thing or two. Probably not as much as he would have liked me to have learned from him in that time 😉 .

The best thing that he taught me has made me a better person, a better mom, a better neighbor, a better colleague and better at my job (probably a better wife too, but hubby would be better at discerning that). It is something that he told me he recently learned from an elderly retired pastor, but really he has been living it as long as I have known him.

This thing that I have learned from hubby is to take people at face value. To not impart guessing into their motives, but to accept them as they are.

It sounds good … it is not easy.

I am one who has a tendency towards discernment. I have an inner ability to grasp and comprehend what is obscure (definition thanks to the Merriam-Webster dictionary). Another way to put it is that I often get a ‘feeling’ or have a sense about individuals when I first meet them, that is often, but not always true. This gift tends to make me very open to some, and very guarded to others.

If I get a bad ‘feeling’ about someone, I tend to treat them with suspicion, distrust, and doubt. It is so easy for me to hang a cloud over that persons head, and for me to treat them in a manner in which they are convicted before they are even accused. I give no opportunity for them to plead their case. I act a judge and jury, and they are imprisoned by arrogant way I yield my ‘gift’.

What hubby has modeled, in my lifetime with him, is that he gives people the benefit of the doubt. He believes well of people, until he has evidence, from them directly of something different. He believes in people with no judgment on them. He gives them the benefit of the doubt. He always believes, always hopes, always perseveres.

Hum, that sounds familiar.

It sounds like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

To love someone is to do all of the above. To pre-judge is to never allow others the opportunity to show their best side, and likewise it never allows us to show ours either.

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Our North American culture (and probably many other cultures, but I only know this one) aims to eliminate that which results in disorder or flaws, and replace it with … perfection.

I think this all started with erasers, which led to white out, which led to the delete key. From our earliest beginnings we have been trying to deny what is reality in living a life of personal choices … that we are going to make mistakes. And from our first bad choice, in the garden of Eden, we mere humans have been making mistakes, and living with the consequences of them.

Everything within us longs for good predictability, with only good surprises. Good surprises like a bonus on our paycheck, or a storm day resulting in no school, or all of our kids being out of the house at the same time, or all of our kids being home at the same time … time of life changes what defines good surprises for us …

And that is true too, that our phase of life, changes our perspectives on what is a good surprise, or a good interruption. Our phase of life also changes how we see perfection. When we look at a newborn we delight in their chubby legs, but when we look at our adult cellulite (and lets face it, at a certain age, it is a given, heck, even JLo has cellulite … but, I digress, again) we shudder. When we are dating we look at our significant other as flawless perfection, yet only a few years (okay, days) into the marriage, we start to pick their flaws out.

So, is there perfection? Is it possible for perfection for one to be perfection for another? Maybe, just maybe, what we see as perfection is simply the reality that perfection is in the eyes of the beholder?

When we start to recognize the lessons of disorder and imperfections, then we start to learn how to live. Also, if, we could eliminate the imperfect from our lives, what might we miss out on?

Without touching that hot stove, as a child, we might not have learned the need to prevent burns, nor might we have learned that our mother’s try to protect us from harm.

Without the experience of failing a test at school, we might not have learned that studying helps us to succeed in school.

Without the experience of having problems with those most near to us, we would not have had the opportunity to work through the problems, towards more healthy, prosperous relationships.

Sometimes what we planned just does not go as we had thought it would. When that happens we can be left with such discouragement. We long for the normal, the amazing. But, life often substitutes unsweetened tea for sweet tea, and we feel as though our thirst for our dreams will never be quenched.

One of the things I love about being the wife of a pastor, is that I attend more than the average number of weddings, funerals and anniversaries of fifty years and more. On the one hand I get to attend the weddings of people who still have every dream and hope of amazing, flawless marital bliss. On the other I get to attend the significant anniversaries of couples who know what it is to keep on going, even when the amazing is substituted for boring or just getting by, flawless is substituted for bad noises and bad smells, and marital bliss is replaced with disappointments, sorrows and struggles.

Then, to culminate my experiences of weddings and anniversaries, are the funerals. When I sit at a funeral or memorial of person who has lived a long life. I read the life story of the deceased, or see a slide show of their life, and it is then, in the mundane of real life, real commitments, real work that I see real perfection. Not the visually, outward perfection that our society tells us to strive for, but inward, character rich perfection of a life well lived, with and for those around them.

THAT is the perfection that I want to strive for … and I will do so rather than occupying my time pondering cellulite, wrinkles and age spots.

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Normally I do not think of my errors as regrets, but as mistakes that have taught me, and have caused me to grow. Lately, though, a regret from the past has been … haunting me. I awake, and think of it. I lay my head down at night, and think of it.

The regret I refer to is one that, if I were to speak of it when face to face with another, my eyes would tear up, my throat would swell, and my sorrow be felt throughout my body. My regret is for an error I made, when I did not speak up for someone who was being taken advantage of, someone who was being harassed, someone who was being bullied. I … regret my lack of action.

This regret is not one from my distant past. It is not one from my childhood or teen years. It is not from when my kids were little. It is a full blown adult regret. I could have stood up for another, I should have stood up for another, and I didn’t.

I expect that there is purpose in my remembering it lately. Maybe, the lesson for me is that I need to ensure that I never repeat my inaction. I need to ensure that I do not keep silent when I see or hear others being bullied. I need to be on the lookout for times when I might be able to speak up, for those who are being treated poorly.

When I think of my learning this lesson, I think of Isaiah 43:18-19 (to the right). Although I could never forget the regret I actively feel for my past mistake, I believe that God is doing something new in my heart, and in my life through the practice of not remaining silent. And with each action I take, I feel new, I feel renewed … as though by turning away from my past lack of action, I am being refreshed like a dried up river being watered in a dry wasteland.

Doing what is right … it can be hard to make the first step, but, once you do it, you (and, for me, the person you are speaking up for) will be energized by your right action.

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