Published January 2020
I turned 36 years old. In a time of reflection on this number I wrote down 36 things that make up my current approach to life.
One — Love rejoices in the truth. And this isn’t some platitude pleasantry to make yourself feel nice. Even when the truth is our broken relationship because he said she said. Acknowledging the truth is always the first step towards true reconciliation, so celebrate the awful truths coming into the light.
Two — Yes or no. No maybes. No oaths. Let your mmm-hmm be mmm-hmm and your nuh-uh be nuh-uh.
Three — Answer “I’m not...“ instead of “I can’t...“. The invitation isn’t of interest? Say “I’m not going to be attending...“ Period. No “I can’t because [reasons]”. You’re not a victim of circumstances. They’re all your decisions. Own them.
Four — Don’t withold praise. Don’t fake it, either.
Five — Complaining is cowardice. It’s the temple service of a faith in things not changing. “You’re not allowed to complain about what you’re unwilling to confront.” I fail at this one all the time, but I’m trying to improve.
Six — Confrontation is not courage. It’s service to the relationship and the person. Serve gently.
Seven — Nobody is paying as much attention to you as you think they are. Nobody is paying as much attention to you as you hope they are. Nobody is paying as much attention to you as you worry they are.
Eight — Perfectionism is not a virtue. It’s a fancy word for “I’m afraid to share because you might judge me.” It also covers nicely for “I’m afraid of being wrong.” Get okay with being imperfect in front of others. It took me way too long to learn this.
Nine — The world is complicated.
10 — The world is simple.
11 — Most tools are neutral.
12 — Most systems are biased. And I’ve been a benefactor.
13 — Technology will not complete me.
14 — Not everything is spiritual.
15 — Everything is spiritual.
16 — Win friends, not arguments.
17 — Cash rules everything around me.
18 — Give money away. You’ll see how far it’s rule extends.
19 — Don’t assume anything. Ask more questions. More than that.
20 — Do the dishes. When your roommates/siblings/spouse leave theirs stacked for days. And don’t do it for thanks. This simple act will teach you the way of service.
21 — Make your bed. Even if you do nothing else in a day, you’ve started with a small win.
22 — Action drives contemplation drives action. Live in both worlds.
23 — It’s helpful to recognize capitalism as a religion. It has its own set of taboos, rituals, priests, sins, and absolutions. Currency is its invisible god of infinite worth, accepting sacrifices at the alter. And you cannot serve two masters.
24 — Jesus Christ is alive. His death, burial, and resurrection is about as far as I want to go in identifying with any larger group. There’s so much plaque built up on the church it’s hard to find the real substance to cut your teeth on. But I’ll still participate in hope.
25 — I am loved. Even when it’s hard to believe. Especially when evidence is hard to find.
26 — Say the weird thing. It’s only a weird thing because it hasn’t been said.
27 — Our generation is starving for intimacy.
28 — Creation is more fun than consumption.
29 — You have permission to change. Embrace it.
30 — Everyone is potentially suffering just below the surface.
31 — “Best friend” is too much pressure to place on one person.
32 — Friendships come and go and that’s okay. Healthy, even.
33 — Facebook friendships are a closet that never gets purged. All your seventh grade winter gear is still in there, distracting you from the life you want to live.
34 — Say “thank you” every day.
35 — Make a budget. For money. For time. Telling resources where they’re going is far more calming than wondering where they went.
36 — I could be wrong about all of it. And I’m content with that.