Since he was in the first grade I have been committed to teach our grandson John Lewis Carpenter the "facts of life". Let me be a little more specific. By "facts of life" I'm not talking about the birds and the bees. In the first place, at age nine he's still too young for that stuff. Even more, John Lewis has a great dad who will sit him down at the appropriate time to cover God's glorious plan to perpetuate the species and fulfill the other "human element" aspects intended by God's creation of Adam and Eve as male and female. No, by the "facts of life" I'm talking about five life keys for making it today, perhaps bits of street wisdom for living this life in peace with others.
Today, I want to share them with you. Up to this point, JL can only quote three of them. We're working through them bit by bit. But, here's the whole list that I'll get around to before he enters middle school in a couple of years. They are---
1. Keep the women in your life happy.
OK, the slant toward a man's point of view is intentional. Already John Lewis' circle of
responsibility and relationship is essentially female. He has a mother, a sister, school
teachers, and perhaps a favorite girlfriend or two. He already knows when mom is
happy, everybody is happy, and one day he'll need to raise it up a notch with happy
wife = happy life. I'm not talking about stronger or weaker sexes or placing the
females of our species in some subsidiary slot in his priority system. Till he launches
out on his own I just want him to know how to honor his mother (and father), give
leadership to his younger sister, and to eventually love his wife as Christ loved the
church and gave himself for her (see Ephesians 5:25). This simple first step is a way
to discover peace and well-being till then.
2. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.
There have been several very significant women in my life. My mother, my sister, my
wife, our daughter, and granddaughter, are primary among them. They have enriched
my life by bringing a special wisdom to just about every venue---personal growth,
education, my spiritual development, and the practical mechanics of daily living.
Now, I'm still learning in this category myself, and I don't understand the emotional
and psychological distinctions of this fact of life. But, I do know that the 1992 book
by the same name, authored by relationship counselor John Gray sold 50,000,000+
copies and has been recognized by many relational scientists as the highest ranking
non-fiction book of the 1990's. There's something there. And, this fact of life will
help John Lewis and all male types handle some of life's complexities with greater
grace. Read through the Pauline Epistles for the influence of Prisca, Phoebe, Julia,
Nereus, Tryphene, Tryphosa, among others. It was a fact of life then and is now.
3. That's life in the big city.
Life isn't fair. It's hard, often cruel, and always a challenge. There's little sense in
whining, complaining, and crying over spilled milk. Jeremiah 29:4-7 is a primer to
Israel about living in Babylon. The Prophet wrote---
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile
from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their
produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your
daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not
decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the
Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Jeremiah 29:4-7, ESV
It's good advice for people living in hard times. Suck it up and move on.
One modern author has summarized this fact with the simple book title phrase
"Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" (Richard Carlson, Hachette Books, 1996). There's
much more to this truth than I can cover here. But, many of our personal resources
are invested in things that don't always matter that much. So, I counsel John Lewis
to Fughedaboudit. Remember what Jesus said---
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they
Matthew 12:36, ESV
Some things aren't worthy of too much attention, or words.
5. Astronomers have discovered the center of the universe. Its not you.
"The human element" is essentially self-centered. Other people matter in our life
schema and we humans must constantly insure that we're not in position one all
the time. Yes, each of us is important to God. But, many of our greatest challenges
derive from losing sight of their place in our lives. Paul wrote it clearly---
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more
highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the
measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3, ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant
Philippians 2:3, ESV
It's not rocket surgery. These facts of life aren't physiological or even psychological for that matter. They're just some down to earth common sense seasoned with Scriptural truth so that we can live life as God designed it.