“Wisdom is competence regarding the complexity of life.” – Tim Keller
When my girls were toddlers I can remember literally following them around sometimes trying to ensure their safety. I wanted so badly for them to be safe from harm, from hurt. When they would fall I would take it really hard and often blame myself because I should have looked after their well-being. One day I had a talk with my father-in-law about raising kids and he said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said often we have to allow our children to suffer pain because that is how they learn. Fear leads to wisdom. If my daughters grow up in a bubble where Daddy always protects them from pain then they will not develop necessary fears that will allow them to grow, learn and discern what is best for their lives.
Just as I tried so hard to protect my girls (unsuccessfully most of the time) from any discomfort or pain, I have also done the same with myself. Specifically my heart. I have become programmed like a machine to always run from pain or numb pain or do anything BUT feel the pain. In addition, I have diminished the pain of others – pain that I have caused. If I can’t bring myself to feel pain then they shouldn’t either, right?
In today’s church sermon, I was convicted big time once again of my incredible self-centeredness. I realized that most of the time when I rely on wisdom to navigate through life’s obstacles, I have relied on my own wisdom. Let me tell you my own wisdom is about as sure footed as a new born fawn. I, like so many sinners, think that earthly wisdom can get me through life and that is a complete farce. Earthly wisdom says that my own knowledge is sufficient. It makes it all about me. It says that I’m the center of the universe – essentially making me play the part of God.
I make things about me all the time.
It’s really my biggest character flaw if I had to be gut level honest. It’s why I chose lust as my drug.
Heavenly wisdom on the other hand is all about meekness and humility. It’s admitting that I don’t have the answers but I know the One who does. It’s understanding who God is and how I can conform to Him and His plan.
All the breakthroughs that I have experienced so far in this early stage of my recovery have come because God spoke His wisdom into my life. Now this doesn’t mean that I literally hear from God on a regular basis. I wish! God speaks to me at church through the worship leaders and the pastors. He speaks to me at meetings through the members of my recovery groups. He speaks to me as I work the 12 steps. He speaks to me through family and friends. He speaks to me through my sponsor. He definitely speaks to me through my Jedi master also known as my counselor. Have I made my point? He speaks to me in such a variety of ways and I’m sure there are more that I don’t even know.
“I’m better than I was but I’m not as well as I will be.” – very wise SA member
On Saturday I was moved to tears at an SA meeting. One of the founding members of the fellowship celebrated his 32nd year being sexually sober. He was not asked to come back to speak to us or to be honored. He was coming to a meeting because he has never stopped coming to meetings since he helped start SA! Since he is basically a legend and beloved and respected by all who know him, he did say a few words. When he was asked how he was able to stay sober for that long his answer was simple and humble. He said that it’s the power of God, the power that is greater than any of us. He said that since this power is in each of us then the community is stronger than trying to do it alone. He pointed to all of us and said, “You are the reason I keep coming back and the reason I am gratefully sober today.” Wow. We are creatures created to search for wisdom and we are creatures that seek to be a part of a community. When we isolate and/or seek or rely on our own wisdom we are missing out on the beauty of God’s plan.
The other piece that struck me like a two-by-four as I sat in the pew earlier today was the concept of how earthly wisdom promotes selfish ambition as opposed to serving others. I have tried to be a servant to those around me and probably failed most of the time because in my insanity I am always looking inward, never outward. I am always thinking about what other people should do for me instead of the other way around. Heavenly wisdom is a wisdom that promotes loving others because that is how God designed us to live.
I am learning more and more that so much of life’s issues, hangups and so on are rooted in our hearts. It seems that gaining wisdom is a head thing but real wisdom – the kind that comes from above, the kind that transforms our lives – is a heart thing.