Live and Learn is more than a saying it is a truism. A truism is a simple truth that can have a large impact on our lives. We will learn from life, but we may not always improve because of it. The school of hard knocks may toughen us or break us. As we get older, we may become seasoned or we may just get salty. What we do with the lessons that come our way will determine if we gain wisdom or live life foolishly by repeating familiar mistakes and digging deeper ruts.
“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of…”
II Timothy 3:14a [NAS]
Paul is speaking to young Timothy helping him realize that tough times were coming, but he should continue with the living that leads to life. Timothy had Christian influences from his childhood, training from Paul and experience in leadership. There was much for him to learn from others and from his own life experiences. He could learn from great examples of what to do (and what not to do) and from personal successes and failures. Nothing is wasted if it is given to God, not even mistakes.
- Our Past Environment – one of the things I often ask couples who are planning to marry is to describe at least one thing they want to bring to their marriage that they experienced from their family of origin, and one thing they did not want to bring. It is interesting to see how they answer these questions. To be too negative about the past may indicate some unfinished emotional work that needs to be done before a marriage will be successful. For those who want to duplicate their family of origin may indicate some lack of healthy boundaries. We are not doomed by our past, but we are impacted by it. Our past does not determine where we go, but it does give us a good shove.
- Our Past Struggles – There are many things that come our way over which we may have had no control. These may be sudden tragedies, illnesses or conflicts that happened to us more than because of us. These may be headline news making, like a hurricane Katrina or subtle, like a private betrayal by a friend. These great challenges can derail us from moving forward. They increase the obstacles to success, but if we move beyond them, we become stronger when the next battering winds come. We do not like or seek them, but few things grow us like getting beyond difficulties.
- Our Past Choices – Most life choices are significant because they are repeated. Seldom are there single life choices that dramatically shape us; however, there certainly are some, but usually they are preceded by patterns that led to the choice. Certainly, a pattern of destructive behaviors tends to escalate to even more destructive choices. To be prone to take the easy way rather than the best way can lead to a life of shortcuts that cuts short life opportunities. Eventually, the skills needed in building relationships, work or faith will collapse if the foundation and frame are not built to last. The other side is also true. When choices that have supported past success are repeated, there can be a pattern that produces even more success.
Life teaches lessons; we must not only discover what those lessons are, but also do what it takes to apply them.
First Place offers a wonderful environment to establish new patterns and break old habits.
- Finding support from others who are determined to live life balanced and healthy
- Learning to depend on scripture and prayer for spiritual formation
- Building healthy patterns of eating, exercising and relating
Life is a hard teacher…
We must become determined students.
Dr. Bill Heston
Bill Heston works on the staff of First Presbyterian Church of Houston