32 Life Lessons in 32 years – Part 4
20. The cheering choir can quickly become the crucifying crowd
I learnt this lesson reading the Scriptures around Palm Sunday (cp. Matthew 21:1-9) one year, and as much as this was very true for Jesus, I recognised the principle behind it for us all.
It helped that I had gone through a similar experience not too long before that with a friend when I had gone from being the best thing since sliced bread to their worst nightmare.
The truth is, as people, we can be very fickle with our emotions and opinions. Therefore, it is unhealthy for us to draw our sense of significance from others, because they can change on you in the blink of an eye. Find your significance in God, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. People…, not so much.
21. Be present – it’s an increasingly uncommon gift
Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is a myth, and a dangerous one at that.
Why, you ask? Because multitasking is also an invitation to ‘multi-thinking’ which invites in anxiety and all the not so lovely side effects thereof.
The rise in meditation and mindfulness literature and practice alludes to the fact that we are recognising this truth for ourselves – we are better of doing one thing well before we move on to the next, than trying to do many things at once.
If our world has become so busy and complicated that we can’t take a lunch break and have to resort to eating at our desks while firing off emails, maybe we need to change our world… And I’m so talking to myself here too.
Being fully present in the moment you are in, with someone i,s an increasingly uncommon gift to them. Not constantly checking your phone while you are out with someone – wow, what a beautiful expression of your care for them. As we increasingly learn to be mindful, let us also extend the gift of true presence to the people around us.
22. Wholeheartedly celebrate others
If you know my love story, you know I waited a long time for my relationship status to change. Yet, around me my friends were starting relationships, getting engaged, getting married, having children etc. Meanwhile, I was celebrating my 29th birthday never having said boyfriend to anyone.
But that never stopped me from wholeheartedly celebrating with friends and family in their good news and triumphs. Partly, because it’s just in my nature to celebrate others. But mostly, it is because I hold on to the simple truth that God has no favourites. Unlike our earthly parents, God really doesn’t have favourites. Because I hold on to that truth, when someone I know finally gets a job they have been waiting on for ages while I’m still waiting, or someone else gets to go on a dream holiday and my bank account is miserable; I am almost as excited for them as though it was me. Why? Because if God has no favourites, it means that whatever He made possible for someone else, He can make possible for me. Not in exactly the same way, but in a way that is tailored and best fitting for me. His word says He makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) so as I see others succeeding, I am reminded that my time will come. It’s like Christmas in a healthy family – if your siblings unpack an epic present for themselves, you’d be excited for them as well as at the anticipation of what that means for you. It’s a sign of faith in your parents’ good nature and love for you. And if earthly parents can be that way, how much more God.
23. Creativity is my birthright
Being creative is part of our birthright if we believe we are designed in the image and likeness of God, the Creator. As humans we have the greatest ability to create, to innovate, to design. We dream, we form and we refine what we create, be it a culinary, musical, lyrical, scientific or other piece of art, technology, service. Just because I can’t draw to save my life doesn’t mean I am not creative. It took me a while to get that. In fact, living with my incredibly gifted and creative husband Gyles, I truly understood: creativity is divine DNA on display. And we all have some of that in us.
24. Travelling gifts you with better perspective
I love travelling – it’s my favourite hobby, most likely because it combines a lot of other interests I have. Namely, meeting people, sightseeing, spending time in new environments, tasting new foods etc. Travel gives you the opportunity to connect with different people and different cultures. It exposes you to more diversity which, if you’re willing to engage with it fully, will allow you to expand your understanding of humanity, one trip at a time. I’m already looking forward to my next trip, whenever that is. In the meantime, I reminisce over previous travel experiences or celebrate and enjoy others as they share theirs.
25. “Start with why”
If you haven’t heard about Simon Sinek and his teachings on leadership yet, check him out here. This quote sums up a lot of his work in the area of how to market yourself, your business, your passions well and it has stuck with me. In my quest to fulfil my purpose, I need to know my ‘why’ as that fuels the rest of my plans of how, when, with whom etc. As a natural planner, I tend to focus on the ‘how’ a lot, but over the years I’ve realised the ‘how’ isn’t as motivating as the ‘why’. The why is supposed to inspire us and those around us to connect with the vision. Only when we are inspired enough by the why do we commit to finding out more about the rest. I’m continually learning to understand and then communicate my why in a compelling way.
26. Discomfort births innovation
The old proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention” rings true here.
It is when we have had enough of the status quo that we are truly motivated to change it. When we are comfortable, we don’t tend to look for improvements to our environments – we can be lulled by the pull of the current, settling for the mediocre. But once it becomes an irritation, we activate that creative DNA I mentioned in Lesson 23 and try and find a way to transform the status quo into a new, higher standard. It is in seasons I have felt most uncomfortable, that I worked the hardest to get out of them, which ultimately led to success – in leadership, love and life.