One of the benefits of living six decades on this earth is that gaining the approval of others matters less and less. As someone who spent too many years worrying about what people think, I’m finding great freedom in a new attitude — “take it or leave it.”

We can let the expectations, preferences and opinions of others guide our lives or we can relieve them of that burden by deciding we don’t really need their approval to be whole and healthy. Because, when push comes to shove (don’t you love American idioms?) the God-given right to speak into our lives should probably rest only with those closest to us. And with God himself.

Families and close friends are usually free with their approval and disapproval. But what about God? How do we know when He approves of how we’re living our lives? Can we actually say to God “this is me — take it or leave it?”

“Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth”

2 Timothy 2:15

Paul’s words to the young disciple Timothy might cause us to believe we have to work for God’s approval, but the truth is we can do nothing to earn His approval because it was given to us when we accepted His offer of grace. The Creator knows me — and you — warts and all, and He wants us anyway. His grace is His approval.

It’s up to us to decide whether we will “take it or leave it.”

I’ve been writing for five quick minutes today on the one-word prompt TAKE. This post is linked up with others at Five Minute Friday.

Yesterday is this summer’s feel-good film

In keeping with the plan to cultivate A Summer of Culture: Friendship, Feasts, Fiction and Film, I’m suggesting you make plans to see the movie Yesterday. A child of the ’60s, I grew up with the Beatles. I was almost 12 when they first arrived in the U.S. and 17 when they broke up. A movie featuring the music of the Beatles? I’m there. (Side note: Wikipedia says producers spent $10 million to get rights to include the Beatles’ music. Money well-spent.)

This British film got a somewhat tepid response from the film community, but was warmly received by the Baby Boomer audience at my local theater. Himesh Patel as Jack Malik is a struggling musician who, after an accident, finds himself the only person who remembers the Beatles and their music. He becomes famous performing and taking credit for writing their songs. I was fearful that the film would end sadly, but this is a summer feel-good film, so no worries. Romance, drama and a fun performance by Ed Sheeran are worth your time. Oh, and great music. Yes, there’s that.

On friendship

A couple of years ago, I agreed to share a room with another member of Redbud Writers Guild while we both attended a writing conference in west Michigan. Neither of us anticipated the bond we’d form over our love of writing and books, but we’ve stayed in touch.

Recently, my writing friend drove across four states to spend a couple of days on our Indiana farm. We sat for hours on our porch, catching up on life, and hung out at my favorite coffee shop for some mutual writing time. I played tourist and together we went kayaking, shopped at a local flea market, hiked in a nearby county park and ate ice cream on the courthouse square. It was a good time.

The fun thing is, 30 years separate us. I could be her Mom. Instead, I’m her friend. There are no rules for friendship, other than the willingness to be open and vulnerable and to share what you’ve got to give. This friendship is a gift, and I am grateful.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C.S. Lewis

Are you blessed with an unexpected friendship? Tell us about it in the comments.

Friends, ready for a day of kayaking and hiking.