I don’t know you. I don’t know if I’ll ever know you. I suppose I’ll need a wife, first. God willing. If not, I know this message will do good for someone.
It’s been 28 years now. Today. A full life. And a life lived to its fullest. Most of the time.
There’s too many experiences to share. I couldn’t remember all of them if I tried. But the good news is the best things in life are worth discovering on your own. The bad news is you’ll probably want to discover everything on your own.
Uncle Rubens always reminds me to “not take the hits if you don’t have to.” He’s right. I have some scars to prove it. But you don’t need them.
So here’s my gift to you. They’re ways of thinking, speaking, behaving and relating. To help you live life to its fullest. In no particular order, except for #1:
1. You’re a gift to the world, if you believe it. You can’t always choose your circumstance. But you can choose your outlook. Free will is your greatest gift. You can use it for good or bad. There is no in-between. So pick good. Because you’re good.
2. You don’t need to know a single blood relative to have a family.
3. Humility is not found in self-deprecation. Humility is found in valuing others equally. Remember we create the inequalities everyone complains about. So lower yourself by raising others up. Say, “____ did great work.” Or give someone a hug when they least deserve it.
4. Find friends. True friends. The kind who will go to your funeral for your parents, not for you. Those friends, that type of person, will be there for you in your darkest hours. Without judgement.
5. Homeless people are not homeless because they want to be. They may have made mistakes. But who hasn’t? You don’t have the judge’s seat. Go pray with them and ask them about their stories. You may learn something. In fact, you’ll likely get more out of it than they will.
6. Make time to dance with your significant other. In privacy. And learn what it means to say, “I love you.”
7. It’s relationship, not religion. Everyone has their own way of experiencing God. But that’s their relationship. It's okay. All you need to know is God’s character is good. He will never tempt you. But He will both challenge and comfort you. And it’s always for your benefit.
8. When in doubt, pray. Prayer is just a conversation. And a great time to practice your listening skills. But don't be afraid to spill the beans.
9. Work before play. And make good habits work for you. Choices are easy when there are no choices. Brushing your teeth, exercise and breakfast aren't options. So just do what it takes to make them more convenient.
10. Spontaneity is cool, but consistency is lethal. (See #9)
11. Learn how to say “no” without feeling guilty. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.
12. Read often. But, remember, just because someone took the time to write it doesn’t mean it’s worth the time to read it.
13. Learn to recognize good fruit when you see it: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you’re around people who produce these fruits. When you produce these fruits.
14. Appreciate people from all walks of life. You're not more important than your brothers and sisters. (See #3 and #5)
15. Always give thanks for the food before you, even if only a brief second. Even if it’s a silent “Thank you”. Everyone seeks acknowledgment. And your Great Provider is no different.
16. Thoughts become things. So dream bigger. Anything less is a slap in the face to a higher power who created our universe.
17. Beware of thieves. The worst ones aren’t human --- social media, TV, alcohol, money, etc. They're like gypsies. You won’t even know they took something until you’re looking for it --- your potential, your time, your money, your imagination. Two examples: First, alcohol was never a problem for me. But, in hindsight, that was the worst problem. I didn’t know it was limiting my potential during college. I didn’t know I could have been perfecting a craft in writing, or speaking, with the time I spent drinking. Second, I've hardly watched TV over the last 10 years. And I don't, not even once, regret that somewhat conscious decision.
18. Sex is a good thing. Just try to understand why it’s meant to be saved for marriage. I wasn’t taught this. It’s about showing respect to your significant other. It’s about showing self-control to your significant other. It’s about making a promise to show respect and self-control to your significant other. Throughout your marriage. It’s about using things for the way they’re meant to be used. You can use a toaster as a football. And you may get it down the field. But I’d be surprised if you can throw the Hail Mary.
19. Stay active, not just busy. Though busy-ness comes, it should be in seasons, and not endless. I've made this mistake often. And it hurts my relationships. Busy-ness is a thief. (See #17)
20. Everything in moderation, including moderation. I know you’ll learn the hard way sometimes. Don’t be stingy with forgiveness. Including self-forgiveness. You can thank your Uncle Ashley for that nugget.
21. Learn the fundamentals of finance, even if just an extra class or two, to understand the basics.
22. Unspoken is unresolved. Express your emotions. Try to be concise. Try to be honest. And, remember, just because you're ready to say it doesn't mean they're ready to hear it. Be mindful.
23. Fear less. But don’t be fearless. There’s only one fear in life. And it’s not death.
24. You really have purpose. And it matters. So be intentional with your resources. With your time, your money, your energy, your relationships, etc. Don’t agree with the words, “That’s just how it is”. Nobody ever changed the world with that agreement.
25. Authenticity is the secret to relationships. And a genuine, healthy relationship is the secret to a fulfilling life. Start with your relationship with God, then self, then others. In that order.
26. Everyone surrenders to something. Money, women, power, career, adventure, God. What will you surrender to? Said differently, at your last breath, what’s worth surrendering to? Follow your heart. Just know your heart will be deceitful. So get good counsel. Just know good counsel is not always the right counsel. Wait. That’s confusing. No, it’s not. Just live your conscience.
27. Accept help from others. We're not in this thing alone.
28. Take risks. Believe in yourself. And shamelessly use your story to set people free. Everyone has brokenness in their story. The greater the break, the greater the blessing. Just remember things can’t be broken unless they were whole first. So stay faithful. Have confidence in hope that things can return to the wholeness once were. And live with that confidence. Speak with that confidence. Walk with that confidence. Pursue with that confidence. You were uniquely created to change the world. If you choose to believe it.
We all love gifts. And I know the gift is with the giver. So here's yours to receive:
We're hosting a live event in NYC, on Saturday, December 10, 2016, from 10:30am - 1:00pm. It's called, "Welcome to Yourself". I'll be talking about identity, purpose, life strategy, and tools to help you get perspective on who you were designed to be. We're touching the deep stuff. The confronting stuff. The kind that will leave with you with more questions than answers. But it's the kind that will help you live life more fully. With real tools, real frameworks, to help. Details here.
Whether it's personally, or professionally, we all know someone looking for direction. Someone looking for purpose. Someone looking for clarity, to live the life they're meant to live.
I'm on a mission to help them. And I'm inviting you to join me.
Think of a friend or colleague who should be there. Then send me a message. This is your gift to give. Your gift to receive. I'll hand out two free tickets to the two first replies.