What I’m about to share is not overly profound, and it’s certainly not my own. These words of wisdom were given to me by one of my college professors as I sat in his office bawling my eyes out, overwhelmed by the stresses and pressures of life, school, family, and relationships. These thoughts never get old to me. I’ve shared them time and time again, and I’m hoping they can encourage you too. This is grab a cup of coffee, chat with a friend kind of wisdom. Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly what was happening when I heard these words. I had already hit a breaking point.
So let me give you a little background, 3 years ago, I’m a college sophomore balancing a part-time job, full-time schooling, dorm-life (aka roommate life), a boyfriend, family struggles, and a ridiculous amount of practice hours (music major). I come crawling into the office of one of my mentor’s, just to say hi and see someone smiling at me for a change. He asks how I am and—bam—tears. After letting me talk out all of my troubles, he told me he had some advice that I may not really want to hear, but I needed to hear it — three things, he said, that helped him and could help me.
- People are more important than the things you have “to do.”
As we talked, he’d been asking me how my sister who lived in town was doing. “I don’t know” was all I could reply because I had been “to busy” to check in with her or spend any time with her. He asked how my family back home in Michigan was. “I don’t know. I haven’t had time to call them.” He continued to ask how my boyfriend was, my roommates, my friends. “I don’t know” was all I could say.
When we get so bogged down with all of our work and the junk that we’re dealing with, we start getting selfish. We become little narcissists who “forget” to care about the people around us. This only makes our problems worse and hurts every relationship we have. Instead, when we get bogged down, we really need to remember the blessings in friendships and relationships around us.
It had become way too easy for me to say, “Sorry. I can’t. I’m busy.” It was easy to shut people out in the name of work or homework. While we have to accomplish things in our lives that take time, it is so important for us to value other people. At the end of my four years of undergrad, I don’t look back and smile at the grades I got on tests or papers. I look back and smile thinking of the wonderful memories I made with friends and family and the wonderful things I learned as I grew up with great teachers encouraging me.
Stop pushing people aside because you’re too busy for them. If you’re too busy for other people, you’re too busy.
- Never let anybody steal your joy.
(I could add, “and don’t steal anyone else’s!”)
As self-focused people, we love to steal other people’s joy. We love to say the one thing that “keeps them humble.” We can’t help but critique people and bring others down with negative comments. What is wrong with us??? We tend to want to “one up” each other instead of encouraging those around us when they have success or blessings.
We really need to step back and realize that our joy is found in Christ. Whatever happened to the joy of the Lord being our strength (Neh. 8:10)? Don’t let your joy rely on other people. You’ll be disappointed. Don’t allow the negativity and unkindness of others rob you of the joy can have in Christ. Instead, respond to their negativity with joy and kindness. You’ll be amazed at the difference that can make.
- It’s not about you.
This one is probably the hardest to swallow. At the end of the day, my life is about honoring God and loving other people. My life is not about “finding myself” or getting what I want. My life ought to be others-focused and lived for God’s glory. I need to STOP worrying so much about my wants, goals, desires. I need to start being much more concerned with how I’m reflecting Christ and how I’m loving all the fantastic people in my life (and the less-than fantastic people)!
This was a real perspective-changer for me. If this was even half as helpful for you, it was worth sharing. I continually remind myself of these basic principles. I actually have a note next to my bed with these three reminders so that I see it when I go to sleep and when I get up. It is amazing how refreshing and uplifting it is to get my focus off myself!
What words of wisdom have encouraged you in life? Please share!