I just celebrated my 39th birthday. Not sure “celebrated” captures how I feel about it. I am in my last year of my thirties and retrospection seems to be a natural response to getting older.
I was thinking about the last seventeen years. Seventeen years of marriage. Sixteen years of being a parent. So many mistakes. So many repeated mistakes. So much pain I could have avoided. I wish the 39-year old me could have a conversation with the 22-year old me. The odds are, the 22-year old me wouldn’t listen, but there are a few things I’d love to share:
1. Who you are isn’t what you do.
Everyday you will be tempted to find your identity in your profession. You will be tempted to worship your calling more than you worship Christ. Don’t find your value in what you do, you will always feel empty. Nothing will ever be enough. Insecurity will haunt you. Achievement will rule you. Who you are isn’t in what you do. Your identity is found in who you are in Christ. Nothing more; nothing less.
2. Conflict isn’t something you should avoid.
Just because you don’t like conflict doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Intimacy is a bi-product of well navigated conflict. Embracing conflict will cost you. Leaning into conflict will be uncomfortable. Keeping the peace isn’t the same as living in peace. The absence of conflict in your marriage doesn’t always equal the presence of intimacy.
3. Your wife isn’t your enemy.
There will come a day when you feel like Trisha isn’t for you. You will be tempted to believe that she is the enemy. Don’t believe that lie. You have one Enemy. He seeks to kill your marriage; destroy your dreams and come against you and your wife. Blaming her will be easy. Resenting her will come natural. She isn’t your enemy. Step into the spiritual battle and fight for your marriage, not against your wife.
4. Hiding your porn addiction will never help you overcome it.
You think you are helping yourself and your marriage by hiding your porn addiction. You’ve convinced yourself that you can keep it a secret and just stop anytime you want to stop. But you’ll watch it again tomorrow…and the next day. Hiding sin will never provide you with the power to overcome it. The freedom you long for is found in confession. Freedom will cost you something up front, but not as much as bondage will cost you over time.
5. Accountability isn’t the same as transparency.
You can have accountability partners and never be accountable. In fact, you will use your accountability partners to show how spiritual you are. Accountability is only as valuable as the transparency you offer in the context of accountability. Unless you are transparent, accountability will fail you. Find one person that you can be transparent with.
6. Your relationship with God isn’t based on your performance.
You think God’s opinion of you; his belief in you; his approval of you is based on your performance…but it’s not. He loves you and believes in you no matter how good or bad you perform. This misperception of God will drive you to be stressed out, anxious and insecure. You don’t have to live that way. Your relationship with God is based on Jesus’ performance…not yours.