If i ever met you and we got to sit down together, perhaps over a cup of coffee or a plate of barbecue riblets, there are some things i would love for you to know… and there are a lot of things i would like you to know, but here are some more things that i would love for you to know:

[1] Be who you are. Know who you are in terms of character, belief and behaviour. These things are a creation-in-progress and will shift and adapt as you grow older and there will be strong influences from your culture, your context and the people who are both in and around your life. But make sure that you are in control of the process and make changes when you feel changes are necessary [and don’t be too proud or stubborn to do so] and not because outside forces are causing you to. If you are someone who follows Jesus, then let His life and teachings be the outside forces that help shape this person you are becoming. Also take from His example that even though He spoke differently when He was with the crowds and when He was with the religious leaders and with His own group of friends, He never changed who He was. Be who you are, in all contexts and with all groups of people. Let your Social Networking self be your hanging-out-with-your-friends self be your office self be your Sunday-morning-at-church self… and so on. Once you start wearing different masks and ‘becoming’ different people at different times to please those around you, it becomes way too stressful and complicated. Decide who you are and what you believe and be that person. 

[2] Be when you are. When you’re at school, the tendency is to make statements like, ‘As soon as I leave school…’ or ‘When I have a job…’ People tend to ask you when you will get a boy/girl-friend. The moment you have found someone to date, the questions pretty soon start to focus on marriage. On your wedding day there will be some idiot [yes!] who starts the conversation about ‘your first child’ and apparently as soon as you have your first it becomes all about your second. Be when you are. Celebrate the time and context that you are in [even if something in you is hoping for the next stage or situation to be true]. Be present and be content and make the most of when you are, because that will change soon enough and if you have been living in the next moment, then you will more than likely be missing out on all you could have made of the present one. If you are one of those other people then STOP ASKING THOSE QUESTIONS. For someone who singleness is a real struggle for, for the couple who have miscarried or have been trying unsuccessfully for two years to fall pregnant, for the parents at their wits end about trying to raise child number one well, those questions, no matter how well meaning they may be can really hurt. Let us celebrate those around us in whatever time and season they are currently in and let us come up with some better questions. Be content, but continue to dream and desire if there is something you are hoping for.

[3] Be where you are. If you are doing a gap year in another country or have been transferred by work to another city for a few months or if you are working overseas for six months to pay off your student loan or even if you move to a new city or country, be fully there. Our friend Darin travels a lot and even if he is in a hotel room for one night he completely unpacks his bag to remind him that for that moment or time, he is in that place. It is a habit which helps him to be fully present. tbV and i have lived in three different places in the four years we have been married and it has been so important to make each place our home while we are there. In a similiar way to being when you are, this setting of your focus on the now and who of your present context enables you to have far deeper relationships and experiences than if you were living with a passing-through attitude. Live as if you are going to be there for the next twenty years in terms of creating the space you live in and especially in terms of the relationships you build. Be where you are.

[4] Live. A lot of christians get this one wrong [and others as well, but we have less excuse]. In John 10.10 Jesus warns His disciples that ‘the thief comes only to kill and to steal and to destroy’ [and you can see a lot of that killing, stealing and destroying happening if you don’t choose to be who you are, be when you are and be where you are] and then He goes on to say, ‘But I have come that you may have life and live it to the full.’

Too many people exist. Not enough of us truly live. And that is what we were created to do. We were created to be truly and fully alive and I personally believe that is only possible when we embrace God and live a Jesus-following life, and especially not when we focus simply on rules and regulations and what we can and can’t do but more deeply live out lives that Love God and Love people in life-transforming ways.

Take time to do a quick stock take of your life. If you are spending 6 hours a day slumped in front of the television, if you are playing World of Warcraft for hour at a time that could be spent with your family, if sport or work or church or any other form of hobby or time spender is encroaching upon relationships or people, if no time in your week is dedicated to pouring into someone else’s life in any way, if you are not getting input [through books or speakers] from people who will help you grow and develop into a better person… and a hundred other things… then you are closer to existing than living and there are some changes to be made. There is not time like today to do this. What one change can be made in your life today to help you to truly live?

Anyways, there are many other things i would love for you to know, if i could get to sit down with you at that coffee shop table, but these feel like some good ones to begin with…

Are there any things you would want me to know?

[For the first part of this ‘Things I would want you to know’ series, click here]