- I meet the executive coach and articulate that I am craving something different; a life that is more about being than doing. The future my soul longs for has more to do with being still and being whole (my understanding of wisdom) than what has occupied my energy for most of my life. (Remember this phrase: I want to be a wise old woman. That’s important for future plot development.)
- A short piece of scripture speaks to me, and I claim it. I write it all through my journal and see things refracted through its truth. It’s about ancient paths and walking and nature, all which resonate deeply with where I am in terms of perspective and how my soul is nourished.
- I become depressed or tired or overwhelmed or lazy, and I forget about the path. I get whiny. I want to sell everything and move to a lonely place where nobody knows me.
- I read the scripture again and realize that I’ve conveniently left out the final phrase: But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Also important for future plot development.)
That last bit – the ‘We will not walk in it’ line? This seems like something only a rebellious person would say, or perhaps an attitude issue for a nation of people who kept turning away from their culture and their heritage and their God.
Or maybe it’s something relevant to those of us who simply suffer being human. Like me.
All I know is this; apparently, that became the cry of my rebellious heart. What I saw as sorrow, grief and depression was more likely an inability – or unwillingness – to see and remember and take note and put into practice that which had been told to me. And, quite frankly, that which I have told to myself – and to others, via this Instagram post:
Sometimes, I just want to slap myself. I mean, honestly? How can a person be so oblivious?
Anyway….here’s how it all went down, now that we know that I was in a not-so-good, somewhat oblivious place. Here’s how the revelation finally came, my big ‘aha’ moment.
You might recall that I was with my trusted friends on a work retreat, where I finally said some things (my by-now-standard, “I want to be a wise old woman” refrain) and felt really vulnerable and raw. I didn’t sleep well.
The next morning, our first task was a spiritual centering exercise. Our boss had given us an outline of the agenda with eight scriptures marked. He walked around the room with a handful of paper strips.
‘Take one,’ he said. ‘Whatever number you get, that will point you to the scriptures you’ll read on the list. You have 30 minutes. Read, meditate, find something that speaks to you and is relevant. Look for a personal application; then come back and share what you discover.’ I reached out and grabbed a thin strip of paper. I got six.
I checked the agenda outline, and then I looked at the paper again.
‘Hey – is this a six? This looks weird…’
One of my coworkers spoke up behind me. ‘I got six,’ he said. ‘It can’t be six. That’s my number.’
My boss looked. ‘That’s a seven,’ he said.
‘Who makes a seven like this with a loop in it?’ That was me, being rude.
I got seven. (FOR THOSE KEEPING SCORE, YOU MIGHT REMEMBER THAT MY ENNEAGRAM NUMBER IS APPARENTLY SEVEN. I DIDN’T EVEN CONNECT THOSE DOTS UNTIL SOMEBODY INTERRUPTED THE FLOW OF THIS STORY TO POINT THAT OUT. HOLY MOLEY.)
Anyway…I grabbed my Bible (on my phone, because apparently I FORGOT TO BRING MY BIBLE, and who does that on a SPIRITUAL WORK RETREAT anyway? Lord, have mercy; slap me again…) and my journal and scooted back to a private corner to read the verses.
They were all in James, and I have no idea why he chose that particular book, except that it is filled to the brim with advice about how to live.
I looked up the assigned verses, and – I kid you not – it began just like this:
“If any of you lacks wisdom….”
I stopped; it seemed there might something happening here. I decided to copy the passage from the app on my phone directly into my journal. Here’s what I wrote:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all…but when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea…that person should not expect to receive anything…”
Stop right there and tell me that if you had been toting around a mantra for eight months that declared a desire for wisdom, that you wouldn’t have sat there, stunned.
But wait – there’s more. The ‘7’ assignment was the only one that had two passages of scripture. I often cross-reference scripture with The Message version; I love the raw, authentic, contemporary poetry of Peterson’s interpretation. I adjusted the app filter, found the new verse, and read these words:
“DO YOU WANT TO BE WISE?”
I AM NOT KIDDING.
(Can we all pause here for just a moment? Because for some of you, this might be anticlimactic. It might appear to be little more than Bible-banging nonsense and coincidence. That’s fine; go ahead with your opinion – you are welcome to it. But there is NO doubt in my mind that the universe itself got fed up with my whining, that God took pity on my frailty, and sent me this message. It couldn’t have been any clearer.)
In my journal, there are two additional passages that I continue to return to, over and over. Because just in case I didn’t get the message – just in case I need something a little more obvious, blatant, and plain-spoken – here’s the complete statement from The Message:
“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Life well, live wisely, live humbly.”
And then, for the bonus round:
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help.”
There’s one more part to this story, one that concerns an incredible birthday gift that brings everything full circle. That’s coming tomorrow, but here’s a hint: