How Wisdom Works

I find it terribly interesting that we call upon bits of wisdom stashed away in our inactive memories all of our lives.  Not necessarily those we sought after and committed to memory on purpose, but those precious grains that were sown by our parents or teachers, those that have proven themselves valuable over years of life and its perils.

Now when I see someone slouching I hear Mrs. Anderson, my 6th grade teacher who would line us up against the wall several times during the day and make sure our shoulder blades were touching the wall, that commanding voice rings loud and clear in my mind, “Stand up straight!”  And  I notice that I’ve already squared my shoulders, back straight.

There’s the obvious learned response of “OUCH, that hurts” when you touch a utensil that just came off the grill. But that’s not wisdom, it’s cause and effect.  Wisdom is knowledge that you knew how to apply.  But how did you learn how to apply it properly?

Whenever I sit down to a meal that I haven’t cooked, I hear my Dad’s voice in my memory  (especially when I see my best friend POURING salt over everything on her plate) “you need to taste each dish first and see what it tastes like; then season it if you need to.”  Sound advice—I’ve ruined a few tasty concoctions by salting or peppering first and tasting second.

And not once have I stepped into a bathtub or shower and begun my ablutions that I don’t hear my mother’s voice (asleep in Christ since 2003) telling me to “scrub those rusty knees!”  60 years I’ve continued to hear this.  60 YEARS!  But I still hear it complete with her inflection and tone.

While I sheepishly admit to singing on Memorial Day or other occasions when they play the National Anthem, right down to the high notes and the last phrase, “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”–that it’s all I can do to not yell, “play ball!!”  That’s just a learned response, I suppose.

I find myself, whenever I finish reading a lengthy passage of Scripture, hearing my father-in-law’s voice whenever he completed reading a passage aloud, “And may the Lord add His blessing to the reading of His word.”  And I add the same blessing myself, word for word.  Makes sense.

There’s an old joke of a younger man asking how the older man gained wisdom…he was told that it came from making good choices.  “But how did you learn that a choice was wise?”  “From making bad choices,” came the reply.

Of course, wisdom is a gift from God, and one that you’re instructed repeatedly to search for, to ask for, and to seek with all your heart.  I suppose it may be that nuggets that I’ve retained throughout the years are those my spirit recognized as wisdom.  What do you think?

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