Milestones- and the “small stuff” (part II)

Life’s biggest lessons don’t happen at graduations, weddings, or at the birth of a baby.  These are the milestones, the markers of time passing, the “Big Days” from an earthly perspective.  Real learning, (the kind which transforms our thinking and fills us with peace) occurs over time, frequently in tiny increments, and often following painful mistakes.  It’s why while I hope to be able to share some words of wisdom with some graduating seniors at their Baccalaureate, I recognize the opportunity as a simple seed to be harvested later.  Let’s face it, not many graduates will really absorb a message about finding peace as they trust in God’s timing.  Most young people are eager to rush out and “conquer the world”; they haven’t clue about the responsibilities that come with their freedoms. And they certainly don’t foresee the number of detours and waiting periods lurking just around the corner.  Likewise, sharing about finding peace in perspective will probably fall on deaf ears.  How many young people do you know who can step back from the immediate situation and really take in the bigger picture (seeing the forest through the trees)? The truth is, sometimes we have to go through life the hard way to learn the lessons.

The good news, if we’re open, is that we’re always learning; God has shown me again and again that sometimes it’s the little baby-steps that matter most. For example, although this is probably obvious to many of you, I’ll never forget when I learned a truth about asking for help– (and I know it is an occasion on which My Father in Heaven rejoiced :-))  See, I grew up in a home without a foundation of faith, and circumstances being what they were, I became a survivalist– convinced that I alone was responsible for “pulling myself up by my bootstraps” and making a success out of myself.  Independence was the goal, the crowning achievement, the American way, but I never realized how incredibly arrogant it all was too.  Later, when I became a Christ follower, my thinking gradually changed.  As I surrendered more and more of my life over to Him, I began to see that asking for prayer was actually a wonderful gift for others– not only did it bring peace to the one requesting it, but it also blesses those being invited to participate in this privilege.  Still it was hard for me to make personal prayer requests because others seemed to have “greater” needs (and I had minimalized my own pain), While this was true, God showed me over time that actually the root of my hesitation wasn’t about unwarranted requests as I had believed, but actually a remnant of my old pride in my own abilities.  Hard to look at, but grateful for the revelation!!  This life lesson of mine, like so many others, won’t appear on any calendar, but I will remember it forever as a turning point.  Pay attention, Friends!  When it comes down to it, the “small stuff” between the milestones makes all the difference 🙂

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Milestones- and the “small stuff” between (part I)

Milestones are very important to mankind.  In fact they are so important that we commemorate each one with some form of celebration (gathering others around us), often with some specific wardrobe choice (think: cap & gown, or wedding dress), and then we go on to acknowledge the anniversary of the event from year to year.  Studies have also shown a marked increase in the numbers of deaths on birthdays and holidays, when the elderly and the dying will themselves to make it to one more special milestone, and then pass away once they’ve done just that.  This spring I too have been reflecting a lot on these major milestones; not only will my firstborn son be graduating next week, (proud Mom here :-)) but my ministry partner and I have also been asked to perform at a Baccalaureate.  A daunting task– now nearly 30 years past my own high school commencement, what nuggets of wisdom do we hold that would be relevant to share with this new generation as they’ve reached this milestone? These young men and women have grown up in a completely different world than the one we knew!

As I’ve been seeking God on this question for months (I have my own graduating senior, remember!) He has guided me into narrowing down a list of key principles that have transformed my own journey and surrounded me with His peace.  In the last few weeks He has also made another concept really clear… our focus really should be not on the milestones achieved, but on celebrating all the learning, all of the building blocks & baby steps that happen in the day-to-day between major life events.

The truth is, we human beings need these markers of time to help identify and organize where we were at different times in our lives–  With the exception of a date associated with a major news event,  (war, tsunami, terrorist attack, or sudden tragic death of a celebrity) do we remember what we were doing, or more importantly, what we were thinking on any given day, or even in a given year from our past?  Yet every one of us will be able to share some personal anecdote that occurred around the time of a family wedding, the birth of a child, and yes, a graduation ceremony.  Although I believe God certainly enjoys the milestones of His cherished sons and daughters, I have to think that existing outside of time, He’s remembering other things, moments we might think of as the “small stuff”, but that are actually HUGE in the grand scheme.  I want to pay attention to those things, the moments that God celebrates— when one of His children trusts in His provision, or cries out for His presence,  or believes in His protection… or when one of us simply gains a new understanding of who He is & how much we’re loved!