Hey. How ya doin’? Here’s the question today: Who’s life are you living? That is a broad question. So, let’s refine it, distill it down. If I gave you a car, handed you the keys, slapped you on the back and said, “Enjoy the trip.” Would you call your momma and ask, “Where can I go?” Would you ask a friend, “Should I take it out on the highway?” Would you call some old school mates that you haven’t spoken to in years and ask, “Do you like my car?” Okay, when you were born, you were given a great gift of life. God handed you the keys, patted you on the back and said, “Enjoy the trip.”
You, on the other hand, may have spent a lot of time, stickin’ that key in places it don’t belong, (stay focused here) you may not have read the owner’s manual, you may have sought approval for things that just don’t require approval from a single soul other than yourself and the good Lord above! So, all this boils down to same question: “Whose life is this anyway?”
Effects of a life that is lived by its Owner:
- Reduced stress
All good, right? The question now is, “How?” How to live your own life?
Let’s clean up a bit before we move on to the, ‘how’.
This, like any new habit, any new choices, any new road, can seem a bit scary. And a sure-fire way to overcome fear is to weigh the benefits against the risk. You might say, “I might fail.” The fact is, more than likely, you will succeed. You’re looking through a lens of past experiences where you made choices that lead to losses, setbacks and failures. Do you have new information now? Yes, you do. The questions on this are: “Are you believing this information or are you blowing it off with a dismissive statement like, ‘Maybe someone else, but not me.’ The other question is, “If you have new information, why are you not acting on it?” If you were lost, and someone told you how to get to your destination, why would you not take the advice? Why?
The correct response to new information is:
- Pursue – if you are not currently chasing after new information in your life, you won’t get any. Yeah, I know, not the most profound thing you’ve ever heard but it is what it is. Are you reading the right books? Get off the TV or social media and read a book on changing attitudes, setting positive goals, meeting people, creating social skills, having hope. Go to a meet up, be the type of friend you criticize other about not being. So, in other words, you won’t get hit by a train if you’re not on the tracks. Get in the way of useful, positive information.
- Reflect – Not all information is for you. In other words, it just doesn’t fit for you, doesn’t speak to you at this time or moment in your life. You are allowed to argue with the books you read, the authors who write them with alternate points of view. You probably get in an occasional political dust up with people, right? Those kind of arguments are pretty useless, they aren’t gonna change and you aren’t either. So, get in a discussion about something that’s going to matter. Things like, “Who said every mistake I ever made is fatal?” or “Who said I have to grieve just like that?” what I’m asking you to do is think about this new information and begin to apply it to yourself. It may be general information about choices, but you can make specific applications for make changes.
- Apply – This means, you’ve gone through the trouble of finding new info and you have given it thought on how to make it work in your life. Now apply it. Do it! Information is useless without application. Back to the illustration of being lost. If you are in possession of information that can and will change your life, then you must give a valid reason as to why you refuse to use this information.
Then as you apply, you act courageously to make the change. A brave person is not one who acts without fear. They act even though they ARE scared! Take what you have learned, and do it. Put your feet on the floor every morning and just begin the change.
- Evaluate – More than likely, this change will not happen flawlessly. There’s going to be glitches. You don’t just toss the whole thing over a few mistakes. Maybe that friend is not really on board with this new-you. Maybe that particular support group is not for you. Maybe that new church isn’t working out for you. Fine! Adjust and carry on. Let’s go.
- Modify – This step is like the step “Apply” above. More like, Apply 2.0. You’ve seen the need to change, you make the change, it needs some adjustments and personal touches, now you apply those changes or modify. You find a different church, go to a different meet up, talk with that friend who’s on the fence about your changes. If they can’t support you during this time, consider cutting ties.
Back in high school I was a lousy student. Everything from undiagnosed A.D.H.D. to depression, family falling apart and being led by my genitals were distractions that I listened to rather than what I was capable of. I had to take summer school for two years, I didn’t graduate with my class, (a point someone brought up at a class reunion) and had to quit a job to go back to school. But I did it! And on the very last day of class, when I knew I had finally finished all of high school, I hitched a ride back home where my mom was still asleep in bed, hung over. When I busted into her room to tell her I had finished high school, she rose from her bed and slurred, “I don’t know why you even bothered, you’re too damn dumb to go to college.” Nevertheless, when mom developed dementia, she lived in my house for a couple of years with my wife and young family and was a blessing. I didn’t graduate, didn’t walk across a stage, but a few weeks later, I went back to my high school to pick up my diploma. Mr. Thomas, the school counselor, tossed it to me, he said, “You took the wrong class over summer but we gave it to you anyway.” Let me assure you, they didn’t “give” me a thing! Mr. Thomas’ opinion of my work or my own mother’s opinion of my abilities means NOTHING in the reality of my actual capabilities.
I finally came to a point in my life where I no longer believed their opinions of me. It took ten years! Finally, in 1987 I returned to college and extinguished their voices and later came to believe this greater truth,
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
Now we get to the nuts and bolts.
How to live your own life.
- Prioritize –You’re going to have to find out what matters to you. Your friends causes, having children, volunteering, homeless ministries all are serious things to consider and are best done when you decide if they are important to you. If kids aren’t important in your view, then you will not be a good parent.
- Take the Wheel – The only way to get where you want to go is for YOU to take the wheel. Back in the dark ages, when I was learning to drive, the car they used to teach us actually had two steering wheels. And for that application, teaching testosterone laden teenage boys how to drive a 1973 Oldsmobile Cutlass, it was a good idea. However, going back to my first illustration, it’s your car. If you are letting people touch your steering wheel or they are grabbing it from you, it’s either because you have given them permission or they have the belief that you are incapable of driving the car. All this to say: you set your goals, you make your priorities, you set your boundaries, and you decide what goes and what doesn’t in your own life. It’s your life! Don’t wait for someone to give you some sort of approval to do something! Go and do it!
- Pursuit of Happiness – If you’re not happy, whose fault is it? Not mine! Not your mamas, not your spouse, not you churches, not the government, yours. Required reading: “Happiness is a Choice” Frank B. Minirth, Paul D. Meier. This may seem a bit harsh. Truth can seem that way, but the truth just is. Pursue happiness rather than a victim’s life.
- Have your own belief systems – Think for yourself. You don’t need a pastor telling you the end all of what the Bible means to you. Read it yourself and you decide. Or, when it comes to other people’s motives, you can decide if they are good or evil. Or if you are fulfilled by a career choice. Think for yourself. Sure, take other’s advice, research it, and then make a choice on how to move on with it.
- The Past is the Past – The past is that Thing behind you that is either calling you with delusions of the good old days or nailing you there with some type of trauma. You cannot grasp the future with your hands full of the past.
- Decide how to handle other people’s opinions – We all need other people to bounce ideas off of, to give advice on certain decisions and provide expert guidance. If you don’t, then you’re arrogant. And probably lost. However, what you need to assess is unsolicited advice or opinions about your lifestyle if you have truly thought them through. Also consider how the information is given. If these people love you, seem to be in your corner, and seems uncomfortable, then you may want to give it due thought. But in the end, advice is just that, advice. You decide if you are going to take it. It is your responsibility either way. This goes hand in hand with…
- Mind your own business – It’s been said that Jealousy is when you count someone else’s blessing. You don’t know why people are the way they are. Just like they don’t know your entire story. But being a Gladys Kravis brings joy to no one. Set your boundaries, take care of your own backyard, your own kids, finances, priorities, issues and screw the rest. It’s really quite freeing.
- Stop Trying to be Perfect – I got no problem with straining for personal excellence, but you will never be perfect. It sets yourself up for continuous failure and annoys others.
- Don’t give up – Sure, you’ll have a few setbacks. I call them learning experiences. They make you tougher if you get up, dust yourself off and keep going. Again, don’t look to others for approval, just get going.
Is there more? Sure, what do you think needs to be added? Then do it! Got questions, then contact me. That is, only if you’ve had enough.