My Sister’s Advice

“You are too hard on yourself,” my sister Janet said.

We were talking last Sunday night, and she asked me, “How’s your weekend going?”

I said, “There was a snow storm here, and we are sort of housebound. I figured this would give me a chance to get a lot done. Instead, I am lying around like a slug. I was very unproductive.”

“Unless you wake up with your motor running, you figure the day will be wasted,” she said. “You have this thing in your head that you need to get it all done before the curtain goes down.

“Put a sign in your bathroom mirror that says: Chill.

“Put a sign across from your toilet that says: Peace.

“I was wondering what I was going to get you for Christmas, but now I know. I’ll get you one of those self-flagellation cat o’ nine tails that the monks used in medieval days for penance. I bet I can find one on Amazon,” she continued. But she didn’t stop there.

Janet was on a role.

You need to talk to your son Nick. Listen to him. He’ll tell you how to relax and enjoy life.

This reminded me of when Nick was attending the University of Alabama. He always seemed so calm in the midst of all the school pressure going on around him. I asked him, “Does anything stress you out in life?”

He asked, “Besides you?”

Then Janet said, “I bet you wake up wishing you were twins. Then you could get twice as much done. Maybe you already think you should be triplets!

“You are OK. No one is judging you, except you,” she seemed to conclude, but then went on.

“When you hear the words in your head, ‘You didn’t do enough today,’ it is only coming from you. Put a sign on your front door, ‘Give yourself a break,’ she said.

Then Janet asked a really good question, “Are you willing to do this, to behave this way, to think this way, for the rest of your life?”

I was taking notes while she was talking to me. I did this because she was speaking truth. I knew it.

Then I wrote, “Christ did it all.”

Am I seeking redemption in the work? More specifically, the amount of work I get done? This is nuts.

Then Janet chimed in again.

“You are entitled to love yourself. What do you need to do to consider yourself worthwhile? You are already worthwhile. This stinkin’ thinkin’ is so ingrained in you, it will take whatever life you have left to get it out of you,” she explained.

Then she said, “Part of living is to be happy. If you are relaxed every day, it will be better than scheduling a time to relax.”

She finished with, “I give you permission right now. Relax!”

This may sound like an intense conversation, but I was laughing so hard I was crying. For all of us with big sisters, I say they get better with age. And so do our relationships with these wonderful women.

Merry Christmas to all the sisters who know their brothers all too well. Thanks for loving us enough to protect us from ourselves!

Thank you, Janet! I love you!

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3 thoughts on “My Sister’s Advice

  1. It is hard being a type A personality. And we are easy targets for those who know how to build fun into their lives. The truth is, your drive is a gift to others who lack motivation or who need the enterprises you help create. And I see you enjoying life well. Your keen sense of stewardship is something others need. We are far too comfortable in America and poor stewardship is rampant.

    Your sister sounds like she’s a gift to you. She obviously loves you. Her counsel is good insofar as she says, “stop judging yourself.” But insofar as you are not being self-critical, but just holding yourself to a higher sense of stewardship, I want to encourage you to keep the pedal to the metal and focus on finishing strong. People need you to keep making a difference in this world.

  2. Charlie,

    Another great read, and what a treasure your sister is!

    That said, if part of the persona of some high achievers is often to be Type-A, High-D, driven, hyper-focused and unsatisfied with the status quo, then what you’ve described is a part of the package. Take those characteristics away and sometimes the outcomes associated with the persona disappear.

    That is not qualitative by the way, a person with that persona is no better or worse than anyone else, just different. And not every high achiever has that persona. God made us all, and he “bent” every one of us in unique and different ways.

    Andy Stanley has a really good way of talking about margin. I’m wound pretty tight but get margin in time with Elise (who has said much the same to me as your sister did to you 🙂 ), time with my daughter and her family, getting on my water ski, going to a football game, going to church, having a quiet time.

    I see you as setting a great example of investing in others. That’s super-cool.

    Thanks…Jim