Important Lessons

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Things I’ve learned I’m learning, 2015 edition:

1. It doesn’t take much to make me cry

I don’t remember ever seeing my father cry, besides maybe at funerals. My mother is almost equally stoic. I used to think my family just weren’t ‘feelers,’ but now I know the truth: we feel all right, its just that sometimes it goes much deeper than skin-deep, and feelings take time to process at that level.

I’ve learned that tears are normal and healthy and not weird. And for me, the sappiest movies can bring them to the surface.

2. To truly love others, I must first love myself

A big part of growing up is learning how to be comfortable in your own skin. Internalizing that old mantra,

“Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”

To do this, you first have to like yourself. I know, easier said than done. I’ve found that when my relationships with others are most strained, it is because I haven’t taken the time to take care of myself first. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs applies to emotional health too; only after I care for myself can I actually care for others. So in some ways, caring for myself can actually be the opposite of selfish. Huh.

3. I am capable of only what I first allow myself to imagine

I will only succeed in achieving what I give myself permission to believe is possible. No matter how biting or uplifting the praise and criticism of others can be, the most influential voice I listen to, is my own. I am my most important cheerleader and biggest enemy — only I can decide which voice I will listen to today. Giving myself space to believe is the first step in achieving my goals.

4. My only competition that matters, is me

Knowing what others are up to can be inspiring, but it can also lead to comparison and insecurity. I need to remember that I’m not keeping pace with anyone but myself.

5. Reality is grittier than they tell you

The important moments in life, so far as I’ve witnessed, are not picture-perfect, captured on Instagram or Disney-esque with dramatic swells of music (although those do happen every now and then), they are much less romantic. The really important moments are about learning how to deal with pain. Hurt feelings, hurt pride, loss of self-respect, emotional, psychological, physical scars – we all have baggage. Every one of us.

Life is about learning how to bind our own wounds, help others heal from theirs and find ways to move forward, into the sunlight.

6. We are all works in progress

Above all have grace for others, for we all make mistakes. Learning how to have patience with myself, how to forgive myself, has helped me extend the same to others.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Rev. John Watson

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Thanks 2015, I’m better because of you.

  1. It doesn’t take much to make me cry
  2. To truly love others, I must first love myself
  3. I am capable of only what I first allow myself to imagine
  4. My only competition that matters, is me
  5. Reality is grittier than they tell you
  6. We are all works in progress

 

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Growing Up Feels

About two weeks ago I had the pleasure of participating in one of my best friend’s engagements. He surprised his girlfriend and a gaggle of friends and family hid nearby. He bent his knee. She said yes. We cheered. I snapped photos. Phrases like “…so excited for you,” and “…pick a date,” floated above the clamor of congratulations and embraces.

Stephen York pre-engagement profile

Here he is, pre-question. Dapper dude.

The weird thing about this time is that I was, honestly, excited for them. This was a new feeling for me; in the past when I’ve attended such events, I couldn’t help but think,

“Are they really ready?”

“Do they know what they’re getting themselves into?

“Gosh they’re young..”

And I would be gripped with fear for my friends, because I just couldn’t see things from their perspective. I guess my point of view has changed a little.

When I was younger, I used to think of marriage as this lofty, intimidating institution. Words like “lifelong commitment” and “sacrifice” rang with a foreboding tone, and I saw it as a too-far-off-to-comprehend achievement that solidifies one’s acceptance into adulthood.

(If you aren’t already a confirmed adult, getting married to another person is like an auto-upgrade: it guarantees you’ll never have to sit at the kid’s table again. Or so I thought.)

I’ve seen a few years roll by, watched more couples walking down the aisle, and my tune has changed. Now when I think words like “lifelong commitment,” I hear, “lifetime adventure buddy.” “Sacrificial love” doesn’t sound so scary when I realize it is the most powerful kind of love—The same love Christ has for us—that when properly administered to a relationship, is a fertilizer with the power to transform lives.

Okay. Wow.

I don’t know what caused this perspective shift. Maybe it is witnessing my grandparent’s steadfast devotion to each other over the years (however begrudging at times) like a great redwood with roots deeper then you can see on the surface. Or my parent’s genuine, heart-warming laughter when they share a corny joke. Or seeing my peers getting married, having kids and rearranging their lives, because it isn’t about them anymore.

That’s probably what marriage is really about. Realizing it isn’t about you anymore, because there is this breathing, feeling human being next to you who you’d do anything for.

With this changing mindset, seeing my friends who know they are ready to take that journey together, that makes me giddy, and I can’t help but be caught up in the magic of it all. Yes, maybe they are a little on the young side, and no, they probably don’t fully know what they’re getting themselves into. But who really does?

The magical and encouraging and inspiring part is, that they know themselves and each other well enough to know that they want to embark on that journey together. That means they’re ready. And that is truly something worth celebrating.