I’m not going to lie; sometimes I’m not sure I know exactly what wisdom is! And then trying to write on the subject, that can baffle my brain a bit!
My mom was wise. My grandmother seemed wise too. As for myself, I have always hoped that I would feel wise when I got older. But here I am older, and I still struggle to recognize it in myself.
When I think of wisdom, one of the great stories of my life comes to mind. The story isn’t great because I shined with wisdom and came out the hero. Quite the opposite, actually! It was great because I learned what wisdom is NOT, how that brought me a healthy dose of humiliation, and how wisdom grew out of that.
You’ll see what I mean.
My daughter’s bestie, Shannon, moved away in their eighth-grade year. Shannon was like a sister to my daughter and a second daughter to me. A year later, when she had a week off and came to visit, I did whatever I could to make her visit wonderful.
Shannon asked if I could take her to the high school at lunchtime to see my daughter and all their old friends. When we parked, I told her to just wear her backpack, walk through the gates, and no one would be the wiser. I knew the school had a policy against visitors, so I LIED and told her to go on in without going to the office.
Of course, a campus supervisor met her at the gate and sent her back out.
You know what? Some wisdom would have been nice to have right about then.
Did you know that Webster’s defines wisdom as “knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it”? Apparently, I didn’t. Otherwise, I would have made “due use” of what was happening. Wisdom would have kicked in here and moved me forward to better choices.
Instead, I walked Shannon into the office and lied my socks off!
“We only allow visitors if they have an appointment with a teacher,” said the lovely young lady behind the counter. “Do you have an appointment with a teacher?”
“Ummm…Why, yes, I do.” (Lie #2)
Quickly thinking of one of my daughter’s teachers, I gave a name. I lied AGAIN, thinking we could just wander the campus and let Shannon see here friends. But, noooo…
“I’ll just call her and she can come up and meet you.”
Holy Cannoli! What was I doing? How had I let myself get in this deep?
Instead of admitting my fault here and using this experience to move towards doing the right thing, I was moving backwards…and downwards…away from wisdom!
This sweet, young teacher met us outside the office and began apologizing profusely for forgetting we had an appointment today! By this time, I was feeling like the worst person in the world and the VERY worst example to Shannon.
Finally, I spoke the truth. The whole story rolled out of my mouth and I apologized, hoping this sweet lady would understand.
She did not.
But I can’t blame her, or her very justified look of disapproval. I tucked my tail, embarrassed and ashamed, and plodded my way back to my car. After three thumps of my head on the steering wheel and four apologies to Shannon, I drove home.
I didn’t tell anyone this story for a while. And even though I felt appalled at my own behavior, God and I had a talk that day. Just like everything else God does, He took this ugly fault of mine and turned it into something good.
I started to examine all the times I had lied to cover up my mistakes, to make myself look better or to get what I wanted. I saw what damage it had done to me, not just on that day, but throughout my whole life.
“The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)
Finally, I asked myself the hard question: Why do I lie?
It came down to trust, can I trust or not trust God with my faults, my image, and my needs?
I’m glad to say I chose to trust. That decision helped to stop tearing down my integrity daily and moved me towards trusting God to build it up again. Only He can use all these destructive experiences, crafted by my own hand, to build some wisdom.
The wisdom God gave me that day has stayed. I have learned it is better to take the consequences of my faults and trust God to redeem them than it is to be torn down daily by those same faults.
In the Bible, the book of Proverbs talks about wisdom, where to find it and how to draw near to wisdom instead of away. Maybe you’re like me and need to know how to take the bitter moments in your life and trust God to turn them into something sweet.
“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it,
there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 24:14 (NIV)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, (s)he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to him(her).”
James 1:5 (NIV)
I wish I could push this wisdom through these tiny typed words and into your hands, dear friends, but I can’t. Only you can take your experiences, even the cringe-worthy ones, and trust God to redeem them with His love for you.
That is where real wisdom lies.