I’m on the Isle of Wight for my friend UK Sarah’s 60th birthday celebration. It took quite a lot of effort to physically get here and that somehow befits what it takes to reach age 60 with grace. Last night, in a conversation with two women friends, we discussed how frustrating it can be when family members confuse that grace we’ve earned with luck. They envy our good fortune, glossing over all of the hard stuff we’ve endured or overcome. It is especially confusing if there is a disparity in wealth. This is hardest with family because we all started at the same address so to speak.
Each of us, in our own way, expressed our desire to encourage our family members but couldn’t break through the jealousy or the victimhood or the depression. We paused in a moment of sadness.
This morning I woke up from my first good night of sleep in my travels and remembered my cousin Kim’s meme she shared in honor of her 44th birthday:
Maybe life is more like video gaming than we care to admit. Those who persist even after they’ve been “destroyed” reach new levels. Along the way they learn shortcuts that help to seemingly “skip” through levels to get back to where they left off in the last game and work on the next level.
Those of us who persist in life-learning reach new levels too. What we earn is maturity. This is not a guarantee of wealth, some of my most mature friends have not experienced the added blessing of wealth. And I know at least one very wealthy person who did not gain in maturity in spite of her age. Often though, it does result in material blessing because we stop making bad choices about money or we made different choices about work and it eventually pays dividends.
While my cousin’s meme inspired this post, it is slightly off in one respect. Age does not equal your level. If it did my cousin would always be 10 levels behind me. Whereas, in real life, she may well outstrip me in maturity.
How then do we encourage family and friends to live towards lives of maturity? Share our experiences as transparently as we can. Love them just as they are right now. Pray for humility because sometimes life will knock you back a few levels. Value our mature friends.
Hmmm. I have some work to do.
(Forgive me if I get some aspects of video game playing wrong as I’ve not spent much time actually playing.)
P.S. This TED Talk by Anne Lamott is on topic. Enjoy.