My Journey through Breast Cancer

On October 11, 2013, I was diagnosed with Stage II Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) ... or as we like to call it, extreme measures for a nap (EMFN). For a while, this blog will be my cancer journal. Enter at your own risk.

09 May 2007

on wisdom

Proverbs 1:1-6 “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naïve, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, to understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.”

I have to admit, I wasn’t in church on Sunday. My excuse is a good one … I was in Sequoia National Park with Caleb, celebrating our first anniversary (see previous blogs). Normally I wouldn’t even mention it, except that this week Pastor Rick started a new series in Proverbs, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Though I wasn’t in church Sunday, I was at Bible study last night, and we had an opportunity to discuss the first chapter in Proverbs for ourselves. I suppose I could go to Proverbs any time I want, I don’t have to wait for the pastor to begin teaching on it. But, I haven’t. And besides, I love good discussion over the Bible, especially a book so full of profound wisdom.

Wisdom: it’s the theme of much of the book’s 31 chapters. When it’s not talking about the importance of wisdom itself, its sharing profound wisdom through simple insight and instruction. It’s interesting to me how simple a thing wisdom seems to be to describe, and yet how difficult a thing it is to attain … and how few people seem to be truly wise! Most wise people, truly wise people, have spent a lifetime becoming so.

I greatly desire wisdom in my life. And though I have some ideas on what it requires, I look forward to further study, knowing it will teach me so much I don’t know.

Today I find myself musing over my initial observation of wisdom: its reliance on humility. I don’t believe you can have the one without the other. If we are proud, and positive that we already have all the answers, then there is no room to grow or learn, and we remain stuck in our very small box of human knowledge and experience. But if we are humble, and admit to ourselves and others that we don’t have all the answers, there is room for our understanding to grow. Caleb described it well in saying the fool has a very small, narrow and short-sighted view of the world, whereas the wise person sees the bigger picture, and the long-term.

Also, the wise thing is not always the popular thing, or the easy thing, and sometimes only a humble person, who does not care much how others view him, can even follow through with what they know to be right and wise.

I recently read an article by an educator who said, “Education, gives us the privilege to change our minds” (or something to that effect). I found this simple thought so profound (which is probably why it stuck with me). And I think its linked closely with wisdom. Wisdom pursues knowledge, pursues righteousness, and never assumes it already knows the answer. A wise man is willing to entertain ideas and seek knowledge he does not already know, and is humble enough to change his mind, should the evidence demand it.

I think my dad is a great example of wisdom in daily action. He never accepts the status quo or the assumed answer to be correct. He always has to go out and find the answer for himself. It’s actually a bit annoying sometimes. I will share something I’m sure I know is true, and he will invariably ask me, “How do you know that? Did you do the research?” Sometimes I have, oftentimes I haven’t. I’ve become very careful about what I declare as hard-and-fast truth in front of him … at least until I have corroborative evidence. And I’m slowly but surely learning this lesson in my life in general. Whenever I’m presented with new information, or a new way of thinking, I try and remember to seek out the truth from several sources, and see if it matches.

The practice seems simple, and yet I know very few people who come at life that way, with so many questions, and yet without a hint of cynicism or pride in their tone, which is key. It is simply humility of the mind and heart seeking truth.

There are so many myriad facets to the virtue of wisdom. Today I have barely scratched the surface, even in humility’s relationship with it. I look forward to further probing all that Proverbs has to teach me, as well as further exploring wisdom.

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