Sunday Afternoon and Wisdom

So, just to follow up…..I did not drink that beer as it did not even sound good to me and I was busy doing things and drinking didn’t seem either natural or necessary.  Then later that evening, I opted for a manhattan.  And you know what?  It didn’t even taste good.  So, I drank half.  And I had a lovely, if not somewhat tension-filled night, but the tension was induced by me.  Not by a lack of alcohol.  Not at all.  And I woke up Saturday morning feeling great!

Then Saturday night my amazing fiance and I attended a party – we drank nothing at that party – we weren’t there long.  When we got home, we opened a bottle of wine and drank only about 1/2 of it between the two of us.  Again, slept great and feel good today!

That’s my update as far as drinking goes.  AND, I keep thinking of things to write – topics to explore – wisdom to practice with.

So, I’ve been feeling this turbulence.  The turbulence of crossing over, for lack of a better term.  The turbulence of going from chaos to peace.  And in that crossing over, what is emerging for me is wisdom.  I feel wisdom.  I am becoming wise.  I read in Falling Upward that “God comes to you disguised as your life” and so believe that.  I also believe that I have spent a lifetime (almost 1/2 a century) labeling myself.  Labeling myself is both good and bad ways, but feeling labeled, even by self, can alter one’s life trajectory.  Here are some examples of words I have used: smart, dramatic, over-reacting, methodical, non-creative, boring, prudish.

Well, having those labels has caused possibly a handful of good things, but also a plethora of bad things – for instance, my feeling boring and prudish created in my some rebellion.  That feeling led me to do things I should never have done.  Be places I should never have been.  And say things I should never have said.  All in an attempt to throw off a label that I never needed to put on to begin with.  When I was a little girl, I was surely told some version of these things.  No doubt the label-maker used different words that to them meant something positive – but to me, after having dutifully taken the “label”, the descriptor, the simple adjective, through my filter, the result was something very deeply insulting to me.  I was an injured little girl – most of us have injuries from somewhere – and the injured part of me clung to that label.  And then tried to shake it off.  What I didn’t fully realize is that I willingly attached that label, and just to make sure it didn’t fall off, I used super-glue.  I then tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to shake  it off.  I tugged, I pulled, I tried seemingly everything.  But that label held fast, as I had ensured it would.

We all have injuries.  Injuries of different shapes and sizes and severities.  We all have filters.  Some of our filters take one thing as input and spit it out the other side practically unrecognizable.  We never realize that we have control over these filters.  We can clean the filters.  We can make them new again.  The filters are choices.  They have been given to us over a lifetime, but they are not permanently affixed.  Just like the labels generated out of those filters are not actually permanently affixed.  Yes, they are stuck on with superglue and cannot be removed from the shirt we are wearing, BUT we can change our shirts and shed the labels.  Why don’t we think of that?

So, wisdom.  The dictionary definition of wisdom is:

a : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships insight
b good sense judgment
c generally accepted belief
d accumulated philosophical or scientific learning knowledge
2a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3the teachings of the ancient wise men
One of my labels that I have been attempting to peel off for a very long time now is “ARROGANCE” and the closely-related “SELF-CENTERED.”  Oh, how I have struggled with those particular labels.  They have kept me from feeling wise.  I certainly don’t want to be arrogant!  How self-centered can I be to think that I, little old me, has wisdom?  The words run through my head – “Don’t flatter yourself.  You are NOT that great.  You have nothing to give.  Wisdom, YOU?”  Some of those words sound like people I’ve known and some of them are just me – after the filters and with all of the inner knowledge I have of myself.  I am just a simple person who has spent a lot of time anxious and flailing around trying to figure out the simplest of things.  Along the way, though, I have surprisingly gained some wisdom.  Time and study and suffering and joy have all led me to a level of wisdom that now surprises me.  And I find that when I trust myself rather than judging myself; when I stop squelching what I have to offer and see it as a gift, I know that I am wise.  We all are.
I do have the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships.  I haven’t always believed that I had that ability, but I see my daughters able to do those things and I only now realize that I too have always had that ability.  And it gets more pronounced and refined over time.
I do have good sense.  Even if others don’t think it is good sense, there is quite literally no reason for me to believe that I have particularly bad sense.  I have looked around me and thought that others around me are knowing and strong and that I have only things to gain from them.  I would like to know, though, why I don’t give myself the same credit.  Because it’s arrogant?  Let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of arrogant:
1: exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner 
2showing an offensive attitude of superiority proceeding from or characterized by arrogance 
And now let’s re-examine:  am I arrogant?  Do I exaggerate my worth at all, or in an overbearing manner?  No.  I am finally bringing myself back up to the level line with all other humans as far as worth goes.  Do I show an offensive attitude of superiority?  Do I feel superior at all?  No – my wisdom came from long years of struggle and feeling extremely insecure and sad and less than.  What I want right now is the ability to help others through what I have already struggled through.  I want to share.  I empathize.  I feel others’ pain and I want to give back.  I want to reach across the line and offer wisdom.  I want to reach even one person.  Offer one person love and acceptance and the knowledge that they are valuable.  No labels required.  Change those shirts.
The other definitions of wisdom point to commonly accepted teachings and those that teach them.  In many ways, what my wisdom is an amalgam of all of the teachings I have so voraciously consumed over a lifetime of searching and struggle.  I have taken in a lot of raw data.  I have struggled to ingest as much as I could.  I have focused on quantity, quality and just grasping, grasping, grasping at finding the answer.  So,  now, my brain is finally synthesizing it all.  And I hope that I can become a source of wisdom for my children, my friends, my fiance, my neighbors, my coworkers, even strangers.  I pray that I never become arrogant, as arrogance kills wisdom and crosses it over into judgment.
The only as of yet unaddressed definition of wisdom is a wise attitude or belief.  I think I would be extremely repetitive if I addressed this.  And I hope with all of my heart that what I impart is wise.  It does require me throwing off the label and reminding myself continually that while I can still seek and still should seek, I have shifted into a more relaxed mode of also providing.
For many years (26 years) I was phobic of dogs, and I only got over it after deciding I could not live that way anymore.  But then I spent the next decade having those same old familiar gut reactions to the sound of a dog collar before I would remind myself that I was no longer scared.  That label was gone.
Remembering my wisdom is no different.  When faced with fear, I will fall back to the familiar – the flailing, the seeking, until I remind myself  that that label is gone.  I can look inside.  I have wisdom to offer.
And last, but not least, the source of my wisdom is of the utmost importance.  I am wise because I am listening to God.  I have spent a lifetime listening outside of myself, screaming out for help, desperate to find the answers to my problems.  What I didn’t realize is that God is here, inside of me, with me.  It is He that provides the wisdom and it is my job to listen and then to pass it on.  Not arrogant.  Just right.

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