RELIGION
10/14/2010 08:34 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Religious Wisdom That Comes From Middle Age

By Cathleen Falsani
Religion News Service

(RNS) I recently crossed that dreaded threshold into middle age, and it got me thinking about what, if any, spiritual wisdom I might have accumulated in my 40 years in this mortal coil of ours.

Here are a few things I've learned -- from experience, from other people and (I hope) from God:

1. Begin each day by looking in the mirror and saying, "It's not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me." While looking in the mirror, try not to judge yourself. You are beautifully and wondrously made. Period.

2. Do not be afraid of doubt. Certainty -- not doubt -- is the opposite of faith.

3. Often we must make a choice: You can be kind or you can be right. Choose kindness.

4. God will not fit in a box of our making, or anyone else's.

5. The things we think we know about God usually say more about us than about God.

6. Perfect love casts out fear. And even imperfect love does a pretty good job.

7. Jesus is the water of life. Stay hydrated.

8. Listen to children. They know more about God than we do.

9. We can learn the most from the people we think are the least like us.

10. God doesn't believe in "us" and "them."

11. God chooses all of us.

12. Pay attention to the things that bring a lump to your throat or a tear to your eye; they indicate the Holy is drawing closer.

13. God does and will use any and all means possible to get your attention.

14. Pay attention. Listen to your life. All moments are key moments.

15. God is a go-between who makes connections for us with the people we'd never connect with otherwise.

16. God can be found just as powerfully between people -- in relationships -- as in people.

17. God doesn't "give" people hardships, heartaches or other horrors. But God walks with us through hardship, heartache and horror.

18. God is with the poor. We should be, too.

19. Whether you believe in God doesn't make a lick of difference to God. God still is and still loves you, even if you don't believe it.

20. Just like sunshine, rain, wind and the stars, God's grace is for everyone.

21. Grace is the oxygen of religious life. Without grace, religion can suffocate you.

22. Sometimes being grace for another person means holding space for them until they're ready to move into it.

23. If you happen to be in the room when Grace starts to dance, you should probably dance, too.

24. Prayer doesn't change God's mind, but it can change ours.

25. All truth is God's truth, no matter who says it or where it comes from. If it's true, it's from God.

26. None is worthy but all are welcome in God's house. So what part of "all" don't you understand?

27. When Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek," he didn't offer a caveat such as, "Unless they're really mean, wrong, offensive, stupid, ugly or your enemy."

28. God doesn't sweat the small stuff, but doesn't mind helping us out when we do.

29. God has only one enemy: Hatred.

30. Every good, beautiful, perfect, inspiring, moving, joyful, sustaining, edifying, unifying, loving, gracious, whimsical, happy, life-giving, soul-stirring, paradigm-shifting, kind, generous alive thing is a gift from God.

31. If you can pry your sweaty, white-knuckled hands off the reigns of your life and trust God to take them, it'll get better.

32. Sometimes when you think you can't do it, if you just lean in the right direction, it's enough.

33. When Jesus fed a crowd of 5,000 with two fish and five loaves of bread, the miracle didn't happen until his disciples gave away the two fish and five loaves of bread.

34. Usually God doesn't hand us our luggage until we're about to board the plane.

35. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

36. When you start making plans like you're in charge, God begins to chuckle.

37. God has a tremendous sense of humor and irony.

38. Faith is a gift, just like the ability to tap dance, surf, make a souffle, play by ear and breathe.

39. There is nothing we can do that would make God throw up God's hands, stomp out of the room and slam the door.

40. God loves you. You can't do anything to make God love you less. And you can't do anything to make God love you more.

Cathleen Falsani is the author of "Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace" and the recent book, "The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers."