I have learned many things in 2008. I want to share some of those things. Other lessons I will keep to myself for now, but they will influence how I act and treat other people for the rest of my life.
So, in no particular order:
1. Always tell the truth. Sometimes bluntness and honesty will alienate people, but if you lie (for whatever reason), it will alienate people even further when the truth comes out (and it will come out). NEVER lie to people you love! Lying is a form of manipulation and control, and it is never right to try and control other people.
2. When you have someone’s trust, protect it like it is a precious treasure. Once that trust is lost, it is hard (sometimes impossible) to win it back.
3. The bond between a parent and child cannot be broken, and is induplicable among human relationships. In other words, give your children all the love you can!
4. When people tell you that you are wonderful, talented, etc., don’t believe your “own press.” The moment you do, you have become vulnerable to pride – which always comes before the fall.
5. When people are hurt they will act in unpredictable ways and do things completely out of character. Forgive these actions freely.
6. If you want people to forgive you, you have to offer forgiveness to others first.
7. True love is unconditional. Love freely. If that love is not reciprocated, it will soften your own heart.
8. There is a huge gulf between the virtues that some Christians claim to have, and what they actually practice.
9. In times of crisis, your list of true friends will shrink to just a few. Treasure these people for the rest of your life, and remember who abandoned you.
10. Counselors serve a purpose, but do not put too much trust in them. This also applies to “Christian” counselors. Take their advice, but do not abandon common sense.
11. Human beings have an extraordinarily high tolerance for emotional pain.
12. Indecision is worse than making a bad decision. Don’t vacillate. Choose!
13. Material things have no intrinsic value. Money and fine things are only valuable if you can share them with people you love.
14. Loneliness is as destructive of the human spirit as cancer is to the body.
15. Happiness can be found in small things, and usually comes from within. Do not depend on another person or persons to make you happy.
16. Never make big decisions or serious financial commitments when you are emotionally hyped up or as an act of rebellion.
17. Every family has a pathology. You must figure it out or you WILL repeat it.
18. And finally, to quote a very wise family member, “Charles, you are the dumbest smart guy I’ve ever known!”