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 🙂