Letters of Life

Five Things I’ve Learned This Year

Fall in Wiesbaden

It is the beginning of the last quarter of 2011. Good to look back at the year grown old. Have we grown wiser?

Just some musings as we get into October, stuff I learned along the way.

So here’s my list of 5 Things I’ve Learned This Year.


1. READING FICTION by the masters widens our perspectives, both mental and physical. The world looks a lot different than it did before you read that excellent work of fiction. Reading fiction improves our use of language and idiom, clarifies our thoughts, and makes us better communicators, both verbal and non-verbal.

If you haven’t, you can read what I wrote recently about the wonderful world of fiction here.

2. That if I were truly to live wisely and learn to number my days, I would spend a lot LESS TIME ONLINE and live in the wondrous offline reality that God inhabits. (c.f. Psalm 90:12 ~ “So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”)

The glamorous life is to be enjoyed offline, with it’s tactile pleasures of textile, table and take out (whose existence doesn’t necessarily have to find its way onto Facebook to be justified), the glee of youth, the grace of my elders.

3. EXERCISE IS GOOD.  Good for the soul.

You might think you’re too busy, too tired, too lethargic, too out-of-shape. Well, decide to start.

Half the battle is in the mind. Grab a friend, meet at the park. Just be there. The rest will follow.

4. CONQUERING THE FLATS can be more difficult than climbing the hills. 

Running uphill is the best way to become a stronger runner. Ditto real life. Suffering makes us stronger, more compassionate, resilient to the things life may throw at us.

But sometimes, hardship, intolerable while in it, can be something we reflect on as positive. Yesterday’s problems pave the way for how we deal with tomorrow. And so we find ways to cope. Some of us even welcome challenges or difficult situations; we do our best work, we reflect more, we pray more, we take less for granted.

I’m discovering that while I may have improved my technique for climbing the hills, my running gait for the flat, long straights has to change. On flat ground, my pace slows, because I see the road ahead endlessly, mindlessly flat.

I’m going to conquer that.

5. That TRUTH WITH A CAPITAL T HURTS. When I am honest with myself, and let the Scriptures deal with the innermost me that likes to play hide and seek with the self, the pain can be so exquisite it numbs.

And that is when I know that God has revealed His truth to me.

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