Like most of of his other sayings when I was younger, I would likely roll my eyes and say - "okay dad" - and walk away ... but now I really do know what he means by that and I have also experienced that and seen it in action. As I have experienced life I have seen how the people I hang out with influence me and how that influence shapes and changes me. How I tend to be in certain situations because of those people or that influence and because of those situations there are consequences. Now, of course you can have positive situations with positive outcomes, or you can have negative situations with detrimental outcomes. A significant part of what makes, shapes, defines who we are and who we become are the people, mentors, influences we have in our life.
When I was younger I rolled my eyes because I was thinking to myself - ya okay ... I am stronger than that. I know I can be whoever I want to be and no matter who I hang out with, I will still be "ME". But imagine this...
One girl standing on a chair and all her friends standing around her - it's so much easier for them to all pull her down than it is for her to try to pull them all up onto that chair with her.
It's not as easy as I thought it would be for me to just stay "ME" and hang out with whoever I want and not allow their influences to rub off on me. I didn't understand this then, but I understand this now. As I walked through those experiences I just convinced myself that I was doing what I wanted and making those choices because that is what I wanted to do. The fact is, if I had not been hanging out with those people to begin with, I would not have ever made those choices or been put in those situations (or at least not then and there, who knows what would have happened).
Surrounding myself with wise minds and young hearts is what I have been doing lately. I choose now to surround myself with those that I want to be more like. Jesus said - "Let the little children come to me" Matthew 19:14. I choose to surround myself with those that are young hearted - whether they are children, young adults, or adults with young hearts I know that joy is so very important and I must never loose sight of that. I want to cling to joy in my life and I know I will continue to do so when I am surrounded by young hearts. I also choose to surround myself with wise minds. These people are philosophers, teachers, pastors, mentors and range in age. I want to always be learning, challenging myself, and expanding my mind. There is a silly "infinity" commercial everybody has seen where there's a guy sitting around a table with a bunch of kids and he makes that explosion sound and he says .... "that blows my mind" - that's how I want to feel every day. I want to feel like I have gained so much knowledge and wisdom that my mind is being blown.
I say all the time that I want to share my story so that others can feel like they are not alone. I also want to share my story so that other people can hear it and possibly not have to experience it as well. I want to impart my wisdom on the world so that I can share my experiences and learned lessons in an effort to help anyone from having to learn those lessons the hard ways like I did. I want to soak up what others know and have learned - so that I don't have to learn any more hard lesson - or as many more hard lessons.
Life shapes us and defines us - the people we surround ourselves with shape us and influence us - God develops us, helps us to heal and grow. Ultimately, no matter where we have been or where we ware going - who we are with or have been surrounded by - He is at our core and that is where we must focus. Sometimes I look back on my past and wonder where I would be if I had never refocused my life ....
Where would you be? Where are you now? Who do you surround yourself with? What needs to change?