As I celebrate my 60th birthday this week, I’m wondering why I’ve always had to learn lessons the hard way. I’m just stubborn I guess. The Lord has been good to me–I’ve enjoyed 60 years of blessings–but I wouldn’t call my life easy. Those rough times have taught me deep truths about myself, the Lord, and other people.
Here are the things I’ve learned the hard way:
Delayed Gratification & Hard Work Necessary for Enjoying Life’s Best
Anything worth having requires delayed gratification and hard work. I hate that. I want things to be easy. I want things now not later.
I have sometimes wondered, “Does God just have it in for me. Why is everyone else buying a house right now and we barely have two dimes to rub together.” or “Why is everything so easy for other people and take so much hard work for me?” I’ve had temper tantrums with God and begged him to lighten my load and make my life easier. Funny how now I look back and see how the hard work, the living on a tight budget, the waiting built so much discipline in my life.
When God finally gave us our first house, it was beautiful and had been meticulously maintained inside and out. Our second house was spacious and allowed us to show hospitality at every turn with plenty of room for homeschooling. Both houses were worth the wait.
Homeschooling was hard work, but I never had so much fun. I loved every minute we spent learning together. Every night I fell into bed exhausted….and happy. Now I am enjoying the good fruit of my labor. My adult children love to learn!
I enjoy hard work now–tackling projects, creating curriculum, running a business, managing my home, and ministry. I don’t just enjoy the result–I love the process. Waiting is still a bit hard, but I see vast improvement from the past. There is so much joy when you’ve saved up, worked hard, or kept yourself from saying unkind words to harm the relationship. Financial success, healthy relationships, and even our relationship with God require effort on our part and willingness to wait for the right timing.
If you are waiting on God–don’t give up!!!!!!!!! Stay the course. Keep asking. Invest in the things that matter to you now–realizing fruit often takes years.
No One Has an Easy Life
It always seems like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but it isn’t. I’ve met people who seemed to have it all and yet their life was so full of pressure that my heart ached for them.
I long for a smooth road, but realize that’s just not reality when you live in a fallen world. If you aren’t struggling, someone you love is and it’s painful. At the same time, every life has blessing in it, too. It is all in perspective–what we choose to focus on.
Decades ago, I stopped wanting someone else’s life. Even a “picture-perfect” life has hidden struggles and pressures that I can’t see. I have learned to trust the Lord–knowing that He pours out blessings and will only allow into my life what I can handle with His strength and Presence.
I still long for a perfect life, though, but I know that perfect life comes after death in Heaven. Then, I will truly enjoy an easy life. I’m even grateful for that longing–it keeps my eyes on the eternal!
When satan says, “they have it so much easier than you,” reject that lie!
Hurt People Hurt People
This is a painful lesson. I’ve experienced so much hurt from people over the years. I’m also sure I’ve dished out my share of hurt, many times without realizing it.
Like me, you have probably loved people, sacrificed for them, and invested in their future only to have them take you for granted or, worse, trash talk you far and wide.
When friends would hurt me, Mom would say, “Consider the source.” Inevitably those who hurt me have a huge set of their own hurts they are working through. It doesn’t make their actions right, but it does make it easier to forgive. I’m so grateful for all those who have forgiven me and poured grace and compassion into my life.
Forgiving doesn’t mean saying that mean words or bad behavior is somehow acceptable, it is cancelling the debt they owe you. (see Matthew 18)
You Can’t Protect Your Kids From Their Flesh
I tried so hard to protect my children from every possible evil influence in the world, but I forgot about their own flesh.
James 1:13-15 says, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
I don’t just struggle with sin because I live in a fallen world, but because I live in a jar of clay (the flesh). I tend to be idealistic about my children–not realizing that they battle the same temptations I do. I wish I would have talked to them more about that battle when they were young. I do now!
It has been my greatest joy to see my children and others come to know Jesus in a personal way. It is so beautiful to see lives transformed right before my eyes! There is no one who compares to Jesus!
Remember Jesus loves your children more than you do. He is working in their lives and He won’t stop!
God is Transforming Me Over Time
We live in a time that folks are more concerned about their image than their character. People avoid pain at all costs.
Yet, I’ve seen in my own life that God uses pain, sorrow, and failure to transform me more and more into His image. I always thought that a perfectly happy life would help me live a holy one, but I realize that it is in the struggle that I draw closer to Jesus and deeply surrender. It also causes me to treasure the happy moments even more.
There is so much more work the Lord has to do in my life, but looking back over the years, I see change. I see a different person in the mirror! I am a new creation! I am becoming more like Jesus. I can focus on my remaining flaws and shortcomings or focus on how far He’s brought me.
Jesus is changing you if you are walking with Him. Enjoy the process.
There are Joys Today–I Take Everything Personally
I’m convinced that the best way to rob myself of happiness is to focus on what I don’t have or how hard my life is rather than on the blessings all around me.
Is the sun shining? is the sky blue? Is there a bluebird nesting in the tree outside your window? Are the azaleas blooming? Do I have family members and friends who love me and care about what is happening in my life?
All those things are such wonderful blessings!
I love to take everything personally. That beautiful sunset is just for me! Thank you, Lord. Thank you for green lights all the way to the grocery store! Thank you for my comfy recliner, my sweet family, the cardinal outside my window, my health, a faithful husband, a new outfit, amazing friends, and white chocolate. Everywhere I look there are blessings!
One of the greatest joys in my life has been homeschooling my children. I want to help other moms experience the same joy I did. That’s why I blog, create curriculum, podcast, and speak at conferences. I want to bless you and pass on the wisdom I’ve learned from the Lord and those who’ve gone before me. And to remind you that you don’t have to be perfect to homeschool!
Don’t forget our Happy Birthday Sale this week–a gift to you–in honor of my 60th Birthday.
Jesus saved me and healed me when I was 16. You can read my testimony HERE.
Until Next Time, Happy Homeschooling!
Meredith Ludwig Curtis