Every person in our lives entered it for a reason. Each person is either meant as a blessin’ or a lesson and life can be so much better for everyone concerned if we accept them as such. Each is valuable as an example of how to live or how not to live, and I’ve noticed I tend to learn from bad examples faster because flaws are always easier to spot than strengths. Quite a few girls have passed through my Bible college dorm and they all have fallen into one or both of these categories for me. Some I started out disliking but ended up befriending. Some I started out liking but upon finding out their true character I distanced myself from them.
These girls have taught me that when your only concern is winning your own game, regardless of others’ welfare, you lose things that are far more valuable–a good name, friendships, opportunities, trust, and time wasted without impacting anybody for God. It is natural to think of oneself first; but that is not the way Jesus wants us to think. The Bible says the first shall be last and the last first: the humblest servant will be the greatest chief. Sometimes losing a board game is worth maintaining a relationship. Getting a lower grade on an assignment is not the end of the world if you know your time was spent on ministry, and studying had to take second place. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to try without having a clue how to do it when you start. Refusing to do anything at which you cannot win is a crippling habit and is definitely not how God intended us to spend our lives.
They have taught me that flexibility is the key to a full and rich life–flexibility to God’s will, to friends’ needs, to ministry, to family, to whimsy. It’s ok to be impulsive sometimes and just sail off the grid on a spontaneous adventure. It’s ok to end up at a completely different destination than you started for and realize it was the right place all along. It’s ok for your to-do list to be lost in the shuffle of a day’s events and to be just as productive in ways you didn’t plan but God did. Never would I have ever imagined myself approving of such unpredictability, since I have always been an infamous stick-in-the-mud. But college friends help to free in me that tiny spark of whimsy I never knew I possessed. And it’s so much more fun to laugh till your lungs burn at misadventures that you would have once wept over.
They have taught me that choosing to be emotionally short-fused and unstable when others fall short of your expectations, makes you miserable and damages your friendships. Thick skin is the best kind of condition to develop. But it is also helpful to form realistic expectations of others and ourselves. Do we assume the worst about others’ intentions but expect them to assume the best about ours? Giving people the benefit of the doubt and finding something positive in disappointments, keeps one’s stress level and relationships on an even keel.
They have taught me to be more organized. It gets things done efficiently, reducing stress, and the fuller your schedule is the more crucial a neat system becomes. I’m a rather haphazard person, so lack of organization is a serious flaw that cripples me constantly. Between school, work, church, dorm life, and personal belongings, life is a whirlwind and I misplace things regularly. Reports don’t get done till the night before they are due, quizzes must be crammed for, assignments are forgotten, and notes are hopelessly lost between this box or that drawer. To be orderly with a place for everything takes time. But I am learning that it saves time ultimately. As the Bible says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
They have taught me that no matter how hard it is to open up to one’s authorities, such vulnerability is essential. My life is like a box and I can’t see beyond its limits of experience–but if I ask counsel of people who have lived longer than I and succeeded where I have not yet attempted, they give me perspective from their own boxes and make me wiser if I accept their view. No girl wants to bare her soul with all its youthful vanities to a mature and seasoned adult, to sense them silently pinpointing all the things you’re doing wrong. But the Bible says a wise person will seek counsel. Though we fear losing our authorities’ good opinion if we let them glimpse our weaknesses, we actually gain their respect by doing so; it shows we want to move past our stumbling-blocks and are humble enough to realize we can’t do it alone.
The Lord has a great deal more to teach me, and He is using the people around me to do so. As I get to know them better, I am sobered by the thought that I am to them what they are to me…either a blessing or a lesson.