5 Life Lessons I Wish I'd Learned before 50

5 Life Lessons I Wish I'd Learned before 50

I learn most life lessons the hard way. 

It might also be true for many others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could go back and have a do-over. Now that I’ve passed up the big five-o, I’ve finally learned some lessons I wish I’d learned earlier in life. 

There are so many wonderful blessings that come from growing older. Hopefully, being a bit wiser is one of them. Once we reach a certain age, we do seem to look back on our lives. We might wish we’d done a few things differently or at least learned some of those tough life lessons sooner and saved ourselves grief. 

We can’t go backward but we can move forward in a better way. 

Here are five life lessons I learned after 50 that I wish I’d learned earlier:

Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock

  • mature woman holding hand of senior mom in reassurance listening

    1. Listen to Your Parents

    I learned a hard lesson after 50 about taking time to listen to parents.  

    As children, we don’t want to listen to them. We think we know everything especially when we're teenagers. But what they have to say to us is usually tried and true and for our benefit.  

    Right before Dad became so forgetful in his old age, he wanted to tell me something important. We were visiting my parents in Missouri, sitting in the living room. There were other conversations going on and their wild, little puppy was jumping all over the place. 

    I gave Dad my attention and listened to him...but I wasn't fully engaged. Mostly, because of the cute puppy...but also because of everything else going on in the room. 

    I was unaware of how serious his forgetfulness actually was because we were living out of state. Nobody knew he had undiagnosed Alzheimer’s at that time.

    To my dismay, it was the last important conversation we had. He soon began to forget everything. 

    I wish so desperately I’d pulled up a chair close beside him and given him my full attention. I wish I would have asked him some questions because it was my last chance to have that type of conversation with my dad. 

    Lesson learned

    Listening to parents is not just for kids—it’s for grown-ups, too. 

    Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. – Deuteronomy 5:16

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  • senior couple relaxing on couch happy joyful at peace

    2. Stress Less and Trust More

    We will have stress in life, that’s for sure. But looking back after living over 50 years, I wish I would have stressed less over things.

    God does allow stress tests in our lives in various ways. They can come through financial issues, marital problems, or our own rebellious children.

    Stress tests are usually about trust. Sometimes they are needed so we recognize we aren’t trusting God in that area of our lives.

    I wish I’d trusted God more in those stressful moments of my younger life instead of worrying and losing sleep.

    As we grow as Christians, we trust Him more than we did before. We know He’s in control and completely trustworthy.

    It would have been best on those restless nights to give it to God and go to sleep.

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

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  • two senior men friends on hike

    3. Cherish Dear Friends

    We’re blessed to have friends as we go through life. We start collecting them when we’re very young. Some friendships are short-lived and some last a lifetime.

    Truth is, we may only have a few dear friends. Those people we can count on for anything. They’re there for you in the good times and in the bad times. You truly enjoy their company and miss them when they’re gone. Unfortunately, we don’t always have as much time with these friends as we’d like.

    Last fall we made a trip to Florida and stopped by our dear friend’s new house in Georgia along the way. Then later, they took the short drive to our rented beach house and visited with us. We ended our time together eating dinner at a seafood restaurant and planning a possible trip together in the spring of 2020.

    Unfortunately, we were never able to take the trip due to COVID-19 and never got to spend any more time with our dear friends in the way we planned.

    Instead, we ended up at a funeral just a few weeks ago. One of them passed away suddenly from a brain bleed.

    Of course, we’re devastated at the loss of our dear friend and can’t imagine the world without him. But we’re so thankful we took the time on our vacation to find them along the way and visit with them.

    Though we have many wonderful memories with our dear friends, I wish we’d made more. Life is short and dear friends are few. Make memories with them as often as possible.

    A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. – Proverbs 17:17

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

  • man pushing senior in wheelchair outdoors smiling

    4. Honor God Even When the ‘Creek Rises’

    Growing up Mom said often, “If the good Lord’s willing, and the creek don’t rise.” 

    Another hard lesson I learned is sometimes the creek does rise. 

    Last year, we received a phone call in the middle of the night from our oldest son. Our daughter-in-law was in labor. The problem was she wasn’t due yet. She was twenty-one weeks pregnant with our granddaughter, Nora Jane. They couldn’t stop the labor and Nora made an early entrance into the world. 

    She was born too soon to go to the NICU and be nurtured until she grew big enough to take home. The hospital staff couldn’t save her.

    She lived almost two hours and I was able to hold her while she was still alive. Holding precious little Nora broke my heart. I wanted her to live. I wanted to bounce her on my knee when she was big enough and I wanted to babysit her. I wanted my granddaughter. 

    But it wasn’t God’s will and we were crushed. 

    It seemed unfair. We could become angry with God over such a thing. But there’s purpose even when we don’t like it. 

    We honor God in difficult times by seeking His will in our lives even when it’s hard. Even…when the creek rises.   

    The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Halfpoint

  • happy senior retired couple splash and laugh at beach

    5. Enjoy the Ride!

    Sometimes, we need to slow down and just enjoy the ride.

    We can’t go back and relive 50 years of life but we can make our lives better going forward.

    My husband and I decided to make our lives more enjoyable a few years ago. We made a big decision and sold our house and bought a cheaper one. We paid off all of our debt except for our smaller mortgage. Then we bought a used pontoon boat we’d been dreaming of for years.

    Our youngest son was growing up fast and the other two had already flown the coop. So, we decided to have more fun while he was still living at home. We’d spent a lot of time working hard just to pay bills and raise our family. It was time for a little more fun.

    We’ve never regretted the boat and have enjoyed it thoroughly.

    I know not everyone wants a boat. Maybe it’s as simple as taking more hikes in nature. Maybe it’s more days fishing from the banks of a river. Whatever it is, do things you enjoy as much as possible.

    Life is short, but oh how sweet to have a life to live.

    Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. – James 4:14

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ChristopherRobbins

    Melinda Eye CooperMelinda Eye Cooper grew up in the Missouri Ozarks but lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her family.  She writes articles and devotions and has some fiction projects in the works. Melinda grew up in a large family and is number seven of ten children. Many of her devotions and stories are inspired from her childhood.

    Melinda has been honored to be a Selah Awards finalist for online articles and a finalist for the 2023 Writer of the Year Award with Serious Writer. 

    Her non-fiction book “Cross My Heart” is available here. Visit her website here to receive blog posts via email. You can follow her on Facebook here or Instagram here.