My son is a feeler and big emotions are part of who he is. So, when it comes to pain, his threshold is low. We are trying really hard to get past this stage of shouting, “I broke my [insert body part here]!” with every tumble and scrape.
It is a process and we have taken baby steps in the right direction.
Besides teaching basics skills like: “Deep breaths, my dear dramatic boy child. You will survive after all.” I am asking the Lord every day to help me teach other life lessons, like how we forgive, love, and interact in the world around us.
Here is a short list of life skills I pray my kids at least start to grasp before they stumble out on their own, whether through my own fumbling example of what not to do (the most likely scenario) or simply by God’s good grace.
People are never the enemy.
No matter how much it feels like it, people are never the target of what we are up against. Selfishness, pride, and limited worldview—to name a few—are the enemies. Once we can grasp that in our own hearts, we can start to perceive where the true target lies: our sin nature.
Oswald Chambers said, “Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man’s case about which we know nothing.” Assuming is probably the worst thing we can do in any situation. But if you must assume, assume everyone is trying their hardest. Assume the role of helper, not judge. Assume the position of love.
If someone says you are doing it all wrong, listen.
Maybe they are right. You are human and you are one of billions who have traipsed through this thing called life. It is possible you are, in fact, doing it wrong. You may need to lift your eyes and humbly see that. And if you find they were wrong, then you can boldly keep doing that thing and do it with all your might. Let your actions prove them otherwise, but never be above criticism.
Never be more aware of some else’s insufficiencies than your own.
Humans are messy and selfish and entitled. And you are one of them. Welcome to the fold. Oswald Chambers said, “I have never met the man I could despair of after discerning what lies in me apart from the Grace of God.” Everyone sins differently. Maybe someone else’s sin is uglier or more apparent. Maybe yours is culturally condoned or hidden deep inside and theirs is on display. Either way, the moment you point to someone else as worse than you apart from God’s grace, you have set foot on a dangerous path of pride and that leads to nowhere good.
Admit when you are wrong.
Just do it. Even if it was not intentional and even if no one else is taking responsibility for their own actions, be willing to say, “I messed up. I was wrong.” No one—and I mean no one—wants to be around that person who cannot say, “I was wrong.” Resolve to not be that guy.
Give all the grace.
Give grace to yourself when you mess up. Give grace to others when they mess up. Because everybody is going to mess up around here. It is the literal story of humanity. That does not mean you will always see relationships restored or even be forgiven by those you have hurt. It does not mean you won’t continue to get hurt. But you can forgive and you can extend grace and therein find peace.
Life’s not fair.
I know [insert eye roll here]. My mom used to say it when I was a kid, too. Turns out, it’s true. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. We can work diligently towards a goal, only to watch our hard work crumble before our very eyes. We can give and serve and love and in turn get stabbed in the back. So my advice is this: live for an Audience of One.
Live in such a way that circumstances and people don’t undo you because you are so focused on one person: Jesus.
His mercies are new every day.
His grace is sufficient.
He sees your heart.
And in light of all that, I am so glad that life is not fair because a “fair life” wouldn’t afford us any of those good gifts after all.