Last week I wrote a post about turning 60 and wanting to leave some sort of “Words of Wisdom” legacy. Basically it is a list of 10 important things I’ve learned on this long, strange trip through life. I had planned on finishing this post last week, but one thing or another seemed to come up every time I wanted to write, so I’m just getting to it now. Here is a recap of the first 5 items on my list:
1. Make Christ the center of your life – and KEEP Him there.
2. Learn to eat properly healthy
3. Learn to think
4. Read as much as you can and read wisely
5. Love deeply and don’t miss a chance to tell those that matter that you love them
And now to finish my top 10…
6. Don’t be afraid to laugh
Laughter really is the best medicine. If you do something that is awkward or embarrassing, be able to laugh at yourself. You may not be able to do that right away, you’ll probably want to go crawl in a hole and hide. (At least that is what I feel like doing when I embarrass myself. Which is way too often.) But after a while, laugh about it. Worrying about or getting all worked up isn’t going to change it, so laugh. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
And choose to be around people who enjoy laughing. I’ve found that laughter is contagious. If you are around people who laugh, you will laugh. But if you are around people who are serious all the time, or angry all the time, you’ll start to be like them. So learn to laugh and do it often.
7. Make the most of your time
Life is short and you never know what the next moment is going to bring, so make every moment count. The Bible verse in James 4:14 tells us, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” I wasted so much of my life doing stupid things, things which have no value whatsoever, and I can never get that back again.
I can recall many times when I could have done something with my mom but I was out getting high. Now, I’d give anything to have those times back to spend more time with her. There are so many times that I wish I would have spent more time with my late wife. I had no idea she would be gone so suddenly. There are times I could have spent with God, times I could have served others, times I could have accomplished something, anything.
We don’t know if we are going to have tomorrow, so make the most of every moment that you can.
8. Forgive quickly
This can be hard. But not forgiving quickly ends up hurting you. I’ve been hurt by people and I just couldn’t let it go. Forgiveness just didn’t seem possible. But I finally realized that not forgiving someone isn’t hurting them, it is destroying me. Not forgiving will fill you with bitterness, and it will prevent you from loving deeply, laughing in life, and making the most of your time. But most importantly, it will not let you have Christ as the center of your life. We have to forgive, just as he forgave us.
There is a quote from Audrey Hepburn that I love and it seems to fit with several of my 10 points. “Forgive Quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably…”
9. Have good friends
Some folks find it very easy to make friends. Others, like myself, find it a little more difficult. I tend to be an introvert, and when I first meet someone I can be very introverted. I’m also somewhat shy around people I don’t know. So, a shy introvert can definitely have trouble making new friends. But once I get to know someone, and the potential for friendship is self-evident, I put myself into developing and maintaining that friendship. I’ve found it is most excellent to have GOOD friends.
I’m not talking about folks who are good acquaintances or folks who happen to like doing the same things you like to do (although good friends will probably like doing many of the things you like). I’m talking about the kind of friends who desire to share and do life with you. A good friend will know the good side of you as well as the not so good, not so public side of you. And you’ll know the same about them. When things are really tough, a good friend will stand by your side and you will stand by their side.
And most importantly, a good friend will make you a better person. A good friend tells you when you are wrong. They tell you when you are about to drive off of a ‘life cliff’ and make a bad decision. A good friend will help you truly think about anything, even if you don’t share the same opinion. If you share a faith in Jesus, a good friend will help you stay focused on Jesus. Proverbs 27:17 nails it – “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”
10. Jesus. Others. You.
You have to have JOY in your life. And JOY comes from putting Jesus first in your life, Others are next in priority, and You. Yes, that is very simplistic, but it is also very true. That’s not saying that you neglect your own needs; you need to take care of yourself. But think of others first. How can you best serve them? Does your “Rights” take precedence over what will best serve others?
Philippians 2:3-5 sums it up perfectly – “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
So there are my 10 “Words of Wisdom” that I have learned so far in my 60 years of life. Some of them may not make sense to you. Some of them you may not agree with. But these ten things are what I wish to leave as my legacy. I’d really like it if you’d leave a comment below and let me know what you would add to this list or what you would have different in your list. I’d genuinely like to know. Even though I’m 60, I’m not finished learning.