Wisdom comes from a variety of places and since I would describe my self as a woman of faith, I’m going to look to the Bible as the starting point for finding wisdom.
Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
The Book of Proverbs has much more to say about wisdom but for the purpose of this blog I’m going to focus on this one verse. What this verse is saying is that when a woman or a man truly seek God, to know Him and understand who He is, they will gain wisdom from their knowledge of God. For me, I believe that is the starting point of gaining wisdom.
But wisdom isn’t something finite and contained, and The Book of Proverbs would support that. Wisdom is infinite and dynamic and is gradually acquired over time. This means that wisdom is acquired through experience. Our experiences provide the opportunities to gain wisdom. But don’t’ be fooled into thinking that experience automatically gives wisdom. It doesn’t. Reflection, discernment and insight are also required in order for experience to result in wisdom.
For example, it’s the morning after a big rain and three small children are outside playing. After a few minutes, they see puddles on the sidewalk and, of course, all three run directly toward the puddles and jump in, shoes, socks and all. Soon the mom’s appear and all three children are scolded for jumping in the water and getting their clothes wet. Both are brought inside to change clothes and put in “time-out.”
Later that day, the kids are back outside with a reminder from their mothers “not to jump in the puddle and get their clothes wet.” But, as they are playing they keep looking over at the puddles and soon one of them runs over and jumps into the puddle, just like s/he did that morning. The second child runs toward the puddle, but before jumping in takes off shoes, socks, and jeans and then jumps in. The third child stares at the other two looking perplexed, then turns and runs toward the house yelling, “Mom. Mom”
Each child had the same experience of playing in the puddle and each was brought inside by his or her mom, scolded and put in time out. But when they came back out they each made a different choice. Did they all learn something through the experience? Sure. Was there any wisdom acquired through that experience? It would appear the first child didn’t learn much because s/he chose to ignore his mom’s command. The second child seemed to have figured out a way to mind his mother while at the same time still enjoying the puddle. And the third child looks like minding mom was his ultimate goal.
As you look at these three children their responses to an experience aren’t that different from ours as adults. Sometimes, we know what the expectations are or the advice is that we have been given, and we choose to ignore it. Other times we listen to the advice and we adjust our behavior or thoughts in order to respond positively to that advice. And, then there are times when we hear good advice or see how other people have changed or stopped doing something, but we don’t “exactly” follow that advice. We find a way to modify our thinking or behavior and make what might have been a poor choice into a good one…or at least one we think we can get away with.
Which of these options are wise? That’s the question isn’t it and my answer is, “It depends.” (Don’t you hate that?) I know. I always hate that answer, too. But, this is only part one of this discussion so come back tomorrow for the “rest of the story.”