As many of you know, I was one of those homeschooled kiddos. I grew up being asked if I had any friends and people scratching their heads at my outgoing personality. (Homeschoolers generally can be pretty social. :) I'm now in my 20s, have my degree in Business, am married to the love of my life, and co-founded and help run the company Trades of Hope. I've traveled the country in a renovated camper, hiked mountains in Costa Rica, sailed on boats through Thailand, and work to partner with incredible artisans in countries all over the world to help end poverty. In 2016, we helped employ over 13,000 artisans globally.
I'm sometimes asked what things I was taught in my homeschooled younger years that helped me on my road in life. While learning the normal things like Math and English, my parents also taught lessons that I believe have been the key to the success in my life.
So, in thinking about this question, I came up with 10 lessons I learned from my parents, though there are certainly more. We are never by-products of our own, but comprised of the incredible people that have poured into us. My parents are the kindest, craziest, most full of love people I know and I am honored to be their daughter. These below lessons are things my parents were faithful in teaching me and living out for me, and I truly believe they can bring so much joy to your life.
1. Honor God & others, especially those in your authority
This is a lesson I'm still learning. Honor is putting others first and respecting their thoughts, ideas, and contribution to your life. As a strong willed person, honoring those who paved the way before me can be difficult. Bucking authority can be trendy. But I do think, in instances, we're called to honor and serve someone else's vision before we can be entrusted with our own.
Mostly because humility is learned in the submitting.
Not speaking ill of others, not putting them down in front of others, always giving credit when sharing another's idea, not calling people out or making them look bad, always thanking those who gifted you or allowed you to have a platform.
For me, honoring my creator is also so important to this. I do this through honoring the sacrifice he made for me on the cross and the life he has called me to live. When I honor God, honoring people is much easier.
2. Don't burn bridges
Don't cut off relationships. There will be those that wrong you and hurt you. Don't intentionally hurt them back. If we are consistently making poor decisions, angering others, and being vindictive, we will have no more bridges to walk over. Apologize often. If you could have ended a relationship better, do it. Don't wait. Life is full of endings. But we don't need to end things with drama, ill intent, and anger.
Learn how to end things well.
3. Stay physically & mentally disciplined for long term joy
This is something I hid from for a couple of years. I was tired of being disciplined, of saving money, of taking care of my body, my stress level, my actions. And though shirking discipline doesn't always show short term affects, two years later, I was a mess.
I learned that peace is actually found through the discipline to make choices for long term joy.
By doing my work on time and respecting my authority, I decide that my short term desire of wanting my own way is not more important than the long term joy of loving my job and having it love me back.
By being careful about the movies, books, and music I let my mind engage in, I decide that my short term desire for gratification is not more important than a mind that is at peace and free of violence, anger, and morbid thoughts.
By controlling how much I am online, I decide that my short term desire to engage and gain a following is not more important than sharing space and time with my husband, family, and those dearest to my heart.
Choosing discipline can be frowned upon, many mistaking this for not living in grace and not giving yourself a break. And while there will be moments of time we need to break routine and we will always need grace, choosing to control our thoughts, bodies, and minds can lead to happier and more peaceful lives.
4. Before making decisions & assumptions, especially out of anger, put yourself in another's shoes
It's easy to react to other people. But the key of leading anything is to become good at controlling your reaction and understanding that, though your emotions may be valid, the other person's feelings are probably very valid too. We don't live in a world of polar opposites. There is gray and being able to control our decisions and assumptions.... and then filter the perspective of another into them, gives us an incredible way to live in peace with others.
5. Choose to believe that your grass is beautifully green and that there is no other side
Positivity is the key to so much. I went through a very dark period in my life where I hated when people would tell me to "choose" joy. And I get that perspective, I really do. After trauma and pain, there is no real immediate solution in choosing. But what I found in dealing with trauma is that choosing is a slow thing and it hurts a lot more than we thought it would. I would go months without knowing if the choosing was working. Something that helped was eliminating social media for a while. I did this so I would stop focusing on what I had lost that others still had, and so I would instead focus on what I actually still did have. I wrote encouragement on my mirrors, on note cards all over my house, I repeated affirmations to myself, and I only put into my mind what would make me feel grateful. And over days, and weeks, and months, step by step, a little light dawned in my heart again.
There is always someone that will seem to have a better life. But choosing to live YOUR life in the best possible way YOU can will physically and mentally change your life. Your body will become healthier, because light thoughts produce health. Your relationships will get better, because light attracts people. And you will feel that maybe, just maybe, your life is wonderful even when it's hard. And that those two things don't have to be at odds.
6. Be involved in community
Ryan and I traveled for almost a whole year in a camper, never staying in one place longer than 3 days. It was an exciting time, exploring the entire US, speaking for Trades of Hope, and getting to meet new people. But by the end of our trip, I was drowning in sorrow and grief from things going on in my life and in family. And I was so lonely.
I was also confused. Isn't it everyone's dream to travel and see the world? Maybe it is, but it doesn't always feel like a dream. What I realized was that moving every 3 days for almost a year produced in me no real roots or attachments to people. And we are created by God to be in relationship with others. It wasn't until we settled in one area and began intentionally involving ourselves with our friends that I began to heal.
God has gifted others with the balm needed to heal your wounds. You simply don't have it within yourself and I promise that you'll need them to teach you to hope and laugh again.
7. Be generous with your time, money, and knowledge
Every thing we have is a blessing. Every piece of wisdom and joy, every dollar, every possession. But I believe that these things are not truly ours and that we've been given them to help others. Be generous in everything you do. Give of your time. Give of your encouragement. If you are blessed financially, help others with it. If you are given something, start dreaming of how you can use this gift to help other people. This is one of the greatest lessons my parents lived out for me and it brings such fullness of life. Instead of guarding our 'stuff' and our knowledge, giving away freely also brings freedom to our minds and hearts.
8. Be creatively passionate in whatever you do, doing it with integrity and excellence
There's 4 words in this statement that mean something important:
9. Be a safe and balanced place for those around you
Balance asks us to lie within the tension of two thoughts. It asks us to guard our thoughts and conversations against extremism. That is not easy and requires constant conflict. The middle ground will always have this tension. But if we are to love all people, we must bridge the gaps in thinking and perspective and help heal divisiveness. This is not just about politics, but in relationships, in work, in groups of people. Don't be quick to take a side, but consider how you can instead stand in the middle to love and heal a divide.
10. Through empathetic learning, act and speak with boldness.
In a world where empathy and gentleness are so important, we can fear the power of boldness. We tend to lack the ability to be bold because we foolishly forget empathy and speak without asking for perspective. If we are to be bold in this way, we will certainly look like fools.
But IF we hold on to the responsibility of being empathetic, we will be gifted with the ability to speak with power and courage. In fact, not much difference can be done in the world if we turn down the moment to speak and act with confidence. Let your compassion and empathy for others motivate you to speak with boldness and conviction.
And choose to do it even when you're afraid.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
Stay a while and get comfy. <3