"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Too Wise for Our Own Good?

By Micky Wolf
“You’re too smart for your own good.” Maybe the adult application of this admonition we heard as children is to not hold wisdom in such high regard we walk away from or stifle those precious moments and ways God desires to shower us with new experiences of His love.

Some people are uncomfortable with the aging process. After all, there’s nothing quite like discovering another wrinkle, sag, or bag, whether obvious to all, or expertly disguised beneath a wrap or ruffle.

On the other hand, one of the advantages—apart from the obvious one of being alive—is that most of us acquire a fair amount of wisdom over the years. Not the same as head knowledge (facts), being wise is to have good sense and judgment (Merriam-Webster), most often and by nature, born of experience. And it is no coincidence; many of those experiences are associated with pain, the kind that grabs our thoughts, feelings, emotions or bodies in ways that leave imprints (scars) which tend to serve as unpleasant reminders. Therefore, being wise, we understand, is to commit to not repeating said experience.

Why then, by any measure, could this line of reasoning be a problem?

When. It. Means. We use. Wisdom as an explanation—no make that an excuse—to avoid new life experiences, in particular, those that seem to resemble the old and, therefore we believe, put us at risk for getting hurt again. We see those scars as clear evidence of one thing—we have been wounded. Ouch. Hurt. Pain. Yucky, unpleasant stuff.

However, here’s the catch: because an experience was painful the first time around isn’t a surefire guarantee there will be a similar outcome at this point in the journey. Nonetheless, the more we cling to idea this couldn’t possibly be true, the more likely we succumb to the strongholds of unhealthy fear.

It is wise to allow wisdom to inform our choices and decisions. At the same time, it may also be so much fearful frittering when we are so reliant on it, we shut ourselves off from the possibilities of life, the opportunities that present themselves for more meaningful relationships, for different situations or circumstances where God may desire to work in and through us.

Attempts on our part to avoid what we believe will wound us, again, because we can point to an event in the past, is to walk on the shaky ground of reasoning, rationalizing, and justifying why it makes sense to “not go there” now.

If we tend to default to that choice as a matter of routine, fellow sojourner, we may as well admit fear has not only entered the room, we have given it residence in our souls. We have allowed it to co-opt the wisdom it mimics. 

Do I tend to rely primarily on my wisdom as a way to choose certain actions/inactions?

How do I feel about giving God more heart-space in influencing my choices?

Fear is a powerful emotion—do I allow the associated feelings to govern my decisions? Hold sway over any willingness to repeat an experience similar to one that was painful the first time around?

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