Two Areas of Focus in the Years Ahead.
Life goes by fast.
My kids have been teasing me lately because this year I will be turning 40 years old! While joking with them, this reality hit me. My life is more than likely, half over. No one knows exactly how long they will live, but given the “average” life span, I’m halfway through life.
I can’t remember much before the age of six, so I’m going to assume those years were pretty good. At six though, life began to get hard! My one memory from that age was my mom sitting at the dining room table reading the newspaper. She saw an advertisement for baseball signups and asked me if I wanted to play!
I was thrilled…then she crushed my impatient dreams by saying, “Oh wait, you have to be 7 years old.” One whole year I was going to have to wait! With that “breaking news” I was introduced to the difficulties of life.
At that age, I thought the world was falling apart, but as I grew and matured I realized life can get a lot more painful…and it did.
My parents used to refer to me as Eeyore (see my post here that I wrote about it). I had a negative mindset as a kid and even in my early adult life. I still feel that pull, but as I have grown in my faith I tend to be more optimistic about life now.
Ironically, my change in mindset hasn’t changed the fact that life has led me to some painful moments. These moments seem to stand out, but an honest evaluation of my life would conclude that those painful moments are outnumbered by many wonderful memories.
That leads me to the heart of this blog post. What should I do with the second half of my life? Here are some random thoughts swirling in my head.
Stop trying to change the past.
Too often we waste time and opportunities by dwelling on the past. Regrets paralyze us from a promising future. You don’t get a do-over in life, but you do get something greater…God’s grace. God in His grace can forgive you of your past failures while strengthening you and empowering you to be useful today.
The apostle Paul was an enemy of the work of God for years before meeting Jesus. He later wrote encouraging the believers in the church of Phillipi to forget the past and to press forward for Jesus Christ.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:13-14
Peter is another example of a failed past. He is still remembered as the man that denied Jesus but went on to make a major impact on the early church. Your past isn’t a handicap that hinders you. It may lead you to a ministry you never expected, but it is never an excuse to quit.
No complaining or blaming
One more thought on our past. Since we are now committed to not trying to change the past (right?), we also need to stop complaining or blaming the past.
The past has indeed affected our present reality. We may be suffering some consequences, but we are also reaping some blessings. A decision to complain about the past will only hinder our growth and present relationships.
So what’s the answer? Ignore the past? Cover up and hide our past? I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, at this point in my life, or maybe ever on this side of heaven, but ignoring and hiding the past isn’t the solution.
The last two paragraphs make it sound easy, but it’s not. It’s a daily mindset that must be surrendered to God. It’s trusting that He is working all things together for our good and His glory.
Instead of complaining here are a few ideas to try.
- Make a list of all the blessings in your life. (Get a big piece of paper)
- Ask God how you can use your trial to encourage others. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- Refuse to let your mind dwell on negativity. Set your affections and thoughts on Biblical truth.
Here’s my commitment. I’m going to look back on the last 40 years to rejoice in the memories and learn from the lessons, but as far as living in regret…I’m moving on and I encourage you to do the same.
Invest in what matters
If you haven’t heard I am a banker now! 🤓
Being a banker makes me want to use fancy words like “invest.” During my day job, I get to see what people “invest” in financially.
Now, while I hope I position myself wisely when it comes to finances in my future if God gives me another 40 years I want to invest my time into the relationships God has given me.
Because life is busy and goes by so fast, we tend to miss what is important. Relationships are important.
I have several hobbies. Some cooler than others and I’m sure you do as well, but I have found this principle to be true in my relationships and in those I’ve been around.
When hobbies dominate my time my relationships suffer.
The keyword there is “dominate.” We need hobbies. They can be stress relievers in our life, but they must be balanced.
Now, if you happen to share a great hobby with someone you want to invest time in, then you have a perfect combination, but that’s not always the case.
Here are three relationships I want to invest in, in the years ahead, and I’d encourage you to invest in them as well.
Four years ago my life hit the reset button and life changed permanently.
One blessing that came almost two years later was my wife Michelle. If you are married like me, then you ought to know the value of TIME in marriage.
Satan loves to destroy marriages and has many devices at his disposal (social media, smartphones, etc..) to aid him in his plan.
Quality time with your spouse is not a guarantee that there will be no problems, but I can guarantee that if you don’t invest in quality time, there will be problems.
One of the most difficult adjustments over the last 4 years is only having my kids half of the time. Spend any time with me, and you will see how much I love my children.
Because of circumstances I can’t control, my time is limited with them.
This new reality has brought many tears to my eyes and reminded me of how important it is to value the moments I’m given.
What about you? Are you making the most of your time with your children?
You might be saying, “Well my kids are all grown up”, so it doesn’t matter. Not true! The activities and amount of time may change, but find a way to invest time.
Some of my favorite memories are on a golf course beating my dad in golf (well I try). I also can always expect to get a random call during the week from my dad. A lot of the time he has nothing really to say, but whether intentionally or not, he is just checking in as “dad.”
Those God has put around me.
There is one last relationship I want to briefly encourage you to invest time in. It’s hard to put into words exactly what I mean by this, but this new reset of my life has made me more aware of the people God has put around me. It has made me ask this question, “God have you put this person in my life for a reason?”
I am convinced that God has us strategically in places to be used by Him to meet their needs. It may be the need for salvation or it may be a need for spiritual growth, but I believe God wants us to invest in others.
I’m writing this, but just this morning on my drive to work I prayed to God, asking Him if I should just stop writing and stop podcasting and get off social media altogether. Maybe skip this third relationship and only focus on the first two.
People can be hurtful. People can be difficult. When I get overwhelmed with people I want to get in my shell and block everyone out.
I’ve nearly quit all ministry several times over the last 4 years. I’ve even justified it in my head and envisioned a life when I don’t care what anyone thinks or says… but I never can quit.
Is it my need for affirmation…maybe? Or it could be that God is saying, “I didn’t put you on this earth to be a hermit, go encourage people. Go make a difference.”
Let’s Make a Difference?
I don’t think I’m in a “mid-life crisis”, but I am aware that I may be halfway done with life.
No matter how much time we have left, if we want to make a difference we have to at least begin by not trying to change the past and then investing time in our relationships.
That’s my plan. How about you?
If you ever see me off of this blog, and off podcasting, and off social media, then you know my plan isn’t going well and I’ve decided to just stay in my shell. 😀