Tuesday, May 21, 2019

What I Learned After I Knew It All

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

I was once young and full of it. Ideas. Opinions. Advice. Me. Truth-as-I-saw-it. Then... Life. I grew up and learned how much I really didn't know. 

So I began a new quest. For Vision. Purpose. Compassion. Truth. Hope. Grace. My Story....  Wisdom. 
My birthday is this week and in the spirit of reflection, I'd love to share with you What I Learned After I Knew It All...

1. I am deeply loved. You are too.
This is where I hang my ultimate identity – I am “God’s Beloved”. If that sounds a bit presumptuous, so be it. In the Bible God says “I have loved with you with an everlasting love; I have gathered you with lovingkindness.”Jeremiah 31.3 That’s good enough for me. So, you can take any titles or status or other identity-marker away and this is what I’ll be – simply and purely God’s Beloved.

2. There is evil in the world. 
Do not be na├»ve – there is (and has always been) an ‘enemy of your soul’ who will do anything to destroy your life and keep you from being the person God created you to be. His wiles are many – but they usually start with whispers, doubts, distractions and making us believe lies… When people give in to this enemy, they do horrific things which destroy their lives and others lives. We are at war in the spiritual realm but we know Who has the power to win the final battle. Stay strong!

3. The only way to grow in faith is to spend time with God.
A lot of people want to be spiritual. But the truth is, most people don’t want it enough to do what it takes to be godly, wise, and yes, holy. We cannot know God and live the life He calls us to by simply having a weeklyspiritual rhythm (church, a Bible Study). We must spend time with Him in prayer, meditation/study of His Word, and worship through a dailyspiritual rhythm. This is not ‘new news’, it is the ancient practice of spiritual disciplines. And there truly is no other way. Trust me.

4. Being grateful is much better than whining and complaining.
I had a bumper sticker on my old suburban which said “Have You Thanked God Today?” Well, have you? Have I? Stop complaining and whining and dwelling on all the negative stuff. Instead, try to identify at least one thing you can Thank God for every single day. If you write it in a small little datebook, you will have a long list of blessings to ponder and remember. By the way, this practice willchange you and me.

5. God loves my children even more than I love them.
I spend a lot of time and thought and prayer over my (now) six young adult children. They are not living in my nest because they are all out discovering how to live their unique lives and fulfill their callings. They are scattered far and wide and are each great adventurers. Sometimes I ache and want to ‘fix’ life for them, but I can’t. Sometimes I worry and want to protect them but I must continually remind myself that even though I love them enough to be willing to die for them, God loves them (and my three grands) even more than me and He is a perfect parent. And through His own Son, He did that very thing.

6. We are not alone.
It’s so hard to feel all alone in a crowd. And it’s also hard to feel alone whilst alone. No one understands. No one knows. No one can help carry this particular ‘load.’ But the truth, as Christ told us upon leaving earth, is “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28.20 We are not alone after all. He is only a prayer away. It often helps for me to envision Him sitting in the passenger seat of my car, on the empty chair across from my sofa. I find His “presence” my greatest present most days…

7. Prayer is powerful.
True prayer is made up of a whole lot more than a list of things to ask God for…   I try to use the acronym TRIP to remind me to include
  • Thanks (praise),
  • Repentance (confession & asking forgiveness)
  • Intercession (praying for others) and
  • Petition (praying for myself)

The most important thing about prayer is to DO IT. But I find that making lists and consulting the Psalms (God’s prayerbook) as well as ancient prayers help me focus each morning and beyond. I have discovered there is nothing that can refresh, revive and support me daily as does praying both in the morning and evening. 

8. We are guided through both opened and closed doors.
I love open doors and fresh beginnings and when someone says “Yes” to a request. A new book contract, an invitation to speak, a job offer, a budding relationship… But the truth is, in my own life God has also used closed doors (sometimes slammed in my face) to guide me to where He wants me. And I have almost always come to be grateful for that ‘severe mercy’ of deliverance. remember this and hope it takes the sting out of disappointment. He is sovereign. He is in control.

9 In every season of life, we have something important to offer.
This week I have a birthday and whatever my age is, it certainly beats the alternative… But it also means that with the years I want to also have the wisdom and passion to make each moment count and to do the important things, not just the same-old thing. I don’t always know what I have left to give, but I’m determined to wake up each day and take feeble steps forward as a Kingdom builder—with encouraging words on my lips and a thankfulness in my heart for the privilege to grow older with grace.

10. The only proper response to God’s gift of grace is to receive it and pass it along to others.
When I finally discovered that I didn’t have to strive to earn God’s love, but could rest in His grace because I was the recipient of that amazing gift I did not deserve, it literally changed my life. My only response was to seek to be a grace-giver to others. But that meant letting go of ‘shoulda-coulda-woulda’ living and judgmental attitudes. I haven’t always done this perfectly, but I join our literary friend Jean Valjean (he of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”) in knowing that when we have received much, we give much --- “to love another person is to see the face of God”(final sung moments in the Les Mis musical). I know this is true. For a while I lived the other way. Today I choose to live in grace.

What have you learned since you thought you knew it all?

What I Learned After I Knew it All - @LucindaSMcDowel on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is a storyteller and seasoned mentor who engages both heart and mind while “Helping you Choose a Life of Serenity & Strength.” A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, McDowell is the author of 13 books and contributing author to 30+ books. Her books include the award-winning Dwelling Places (2017 Christian Retailing BEST Award for Devotional)Ordinary Graces  (2018 Selah Finalist), Live These Words, and Refresh! Lucinda, a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, received Mt. Hermon “Writer of the Year” award and guest blogs for The Write Conversation, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Blog and (in)courage. Whether co-directing  “reNEW ~ retreat for New England Writing,”  pouring into young mamas, or leading a restorative day of prayer, she is energized by investing in people of all ages. Lucinda’s favorites include tea parties, good books, laughing friends, ancient prayers, country music, cozy quilts, musical theatre, and especially her family scattered around the world doing amazing things.  Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England and blogs weekly at http://www.EncouragingWords.net/ 
Follow Lucinda on Twitter: @LucindaSMcDowel


  1. Great post. These are great tips to live a life pleasing to Him. And nothing is more important than that.

  2. Loved your post Ms. Lucinda. I sure wish I had learned many of these same lessons when I was little younger; it would have made my journey a bit easier. But then again, our trials are what makes us who we are aren't they? Happy Birthday this week LSM! God's blessings ma'am.

  3. Thanks, Lucinda - and Happy Birthday! I love all your tips. Ps - I think tip #10 is the way forward for all Christians and makes the first nine easier. :)

  4. What a powerful and inspiring message! :-)

  5. Thank you for sharing these priceless lessons.