I made a tongue-in-cheek status update on Facebook this week:
Since I started drinking coffee most mornings, my kids have gotten older and more responsible, I drive a nicer car, and my overall quality of life is good. I love my well-creamed coffee!
My FB friends know me well enough to see my humorous intention. But this got me thinking about what really has brought growth over the last six or seven years (the amount of time I've been a coffee drinker.) Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts.
Experience Oh, man, have I had experiences! The ones I've learned from, the ones that eventually brought some added quality to my life, were the tough ones. I've had plenty of those. It may have been Albert Einstein who said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Okay, so I've learned to try different responses to yukky stuff, and it's helped.
Bible reading and pondering A few years ago, my pastor encouraged the congregation to read the whole Bible in a year. "Dude," I thought, "I'm an abstract-random perfectionist. I could never!" Instead, I began reading at Genesis and making an entry in my private journal for every chapter I read. I'm slogging through the prophets now, but I loved the life stories in the historical books. Hmmm... come to think of it, I could relate to the people very well, but now I'm learning more about the nature of God. When I finish this read-through (in a few more years), I plan to start over but read in a different order. Abstract-randomness rocks!
My sons ARE older Different situations, different daily routines, different expectations. I've learned that I should not treat them the same way I did when they were much younger. Duh! One of my personal philosophies comes into play here. I believe that everyone does things for a reason. People don't intend to be dumb -- maybe they're working on a faulty foundation, but they're doing the best they can. Therefore, it's okay to let them make mistakes... and hope they learn from them. Of course, MY sons are wonderful and bright and witty and fascinating and insightful. But if they make mistakes, they're old enough to accept the consequences and begin to work them out.
Counseling, 12-step groups, and good friends These have all contributed tremendously to my continued growth and maturity and sanity. At times, each has met a specific need in my life, and I am eternally grateful for their influence. I can't say enough about the people who have impacted me, and I attribute these blessings to God. He has provided a host of folks who encourage, exhort, pray for, and affirm me when I need it.
God Himself I used to pray -- plead, really -- for God to fix whatever was causing me pain. I cried and cried, but the changes that came were never as complete as I had planned and hoped. Finally, over a long time, I realized I could either abandon all hope or accept what He had allowed into my life. I didn't want to become bitter, and knew I couldn't afford to relinquish what little faith I had, so I chose to hold more tightly to the loving God. He does love me, intimately, incredibly, impossibly. Although He wants what's best for me, that doesn't mean I'll get what's comfortable for me. It'll all work out in the end, and I'm okay for the here and now.
Humor The most important component of sanity, in my opinion. The person who can't laugh at himself has more issues than... well, you know what I mean. Introspection is my middle name, but there's so much about life that is downright laughable. Even though I trust that everyone has a reason for the dumb things they do, I still find it funny sometimes. In fact, the way I know I'm in a safe, healthy place is when I can laugh the hardest at myself. Folks, I do the silliest things! I should write a book. Oh, wait -- I am!
So there you have it. In addition to coffee with sugar and cream, here are the top six building blocks in my personal growth. Blackie would be proud, but Rufus says it's time to GOFORAWALKMOMNOWLETSGORIGHTTHISMINUTE!