“Speak up!” “How can you say nothing?” “Not now!” “I don’t have an opinion on that!” “With your silence you enable!” “Say something!”
These and other phrases are thrown around often with good intent, usually around social justice cases. Feeling personally very responsible for the pain in the world – hello empaths! – I probably throw them around a fair bit too. But they do serve a purpose. They call for change. And change is … challenging! A situation at home with one of my sons caused me to have to think about the example I set for them. He was experiencing the consequences of speaking up and not being received well! The apple does not fall far from the tree! And I was hurting for Him, because I could see why he had done it, what he could have done better and the painful situation he was now faced with! Really I wanted to storm in and sort it out for him. But apparently, that is not good parenting! So I prayed and pondered as I listened to Him
When is it right to speak up and when is it ok to be silent about an injustice – directly affecting us or not!
And as I was pondering various scriptures and stories, praying for my son, I only heard the spirit in me whisper “Wisdom is hard to come by! Get wisdom!” Which at first was annoying, because my son was hurting about something and I wanted something more comforting. But I leaned in and realized this wasn’t just about this particular situation. God was using this situation to teach us a life lesson.
Wisdom is hard to come by! Yet the bible is clear. It says to “Get it. Whatever it the cost!” Proverbs 4:7
It costs us something to get wisdom and to gain understanding. Unlike popular belief that wisdom comes with age alone, the truth is you can be old and still have not required any wisdom at all!
I read an interesting article in the huffpost. You can read the whole article here.
But for now, let me just share a few points made by a scientist called Ursula M. Staudinger who apparently has spent decades studying wisdom and people. She currently is director of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University.
Here are a few things she has found.
According to her wisdom is “self-insight; the ability to demonstrate personal growth; self-awareness in terms of your historical era and your family history; understanding that priorities and values, including your own, are not absolute; and an awareness of life’s ambiguities.”
She says wisdom is hard to find “in the Western world, which is so much focused on the material side of life, it’s harder to see. It’s more buried,”.
Wisdom requires thinking outside the box and that can cause a challenge to society’s convention. “It is very hard for a person embedded in the midst of power networks to pass truly wise judgments, because too many things are at stake for this person,” Staudinger said. “A person who accumulates wisdom as he or she grows older needs to be off track,”. “He or she needs to maintain a great openness to new experience and an abundance of curiosity — for life, for people, for the richness of nature and whatnot.”
Staudinger said, we’re guilty of “putting too many things in the pot of wisdom.” Mastery, for example, is not the same as wisdom. As we grow older and accumulate life experience, we get better and more competent at life. This is admirable, she said, but it’s not the same as wisdom.”
“Wisdom means I move beyond feeling well. I actually move out of feeling well,” Staudinger said. “If I want to be wise, I very often have to move myself into feeling bad, in order to learn about myself, of what I repeatedly do wrong and why I do it and how I can solve it, rather than reframing and always seeing the good (let me add: or the bad!) in things and not learning from failure and weakness.” “The pain and the joy have to go together,” she said. “If you wipe out the joy, you become depressed. If you wipe out the pain, you become happy-go-lucky, which is good for you, but it is not wisdom.”
And so, wisdom is required to learn when to speak up and when to shut up! In order to attain wisdom, we have to want to learn to check our behavior. That costs time, humility and often pride! Thankfully we have the help of the Holy Spirit, who can lead and guide us, as well as convict us through this process.
We have much to learn still. This month as we prepare for Christmas, we definitely also use it as a time to grow in wisdom. We understand it just means to continue to grow in Christ Jesus , who has become our wisdom!
Make way friends. Living for ourselves alone is not what we are made for!