Monday, February 28, 2011

A Little Dose of Wisdom

How long has it been since you tried to do something and, in spite your best efforts, things went the wrong way? For me, it hasn’t been very long. Deep sigh. I’ll share in hopes that you can learn from my folly. You see, I seem to have this occasional knack for arrogance without intending to. Call it over-confidence or a lack of consideration; it’s a character trait that will quickly offend if I am not watchful. This week, I wasn’t watching.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a good friend – one of my favorite people in the world to talk with. She always has beautiful insights and she is willing to challenge me, which is really helpful. It’s a blessing because I don’t think it’s good to believe everything you think, and another perspective can really help. I am more inclined to listen to criticism from a good friend who knows me well and expresses honest feelings. That kind of openness is a rare gift.

Previous to our conversation, I had shared a personal opinion that seemed to fidget in my friend’s mind. It was restless and didn’t sit well. As might be expected, the idea came up in our next conversation. After discussing what came to be a difference of opinion, my friend did the wise thing and suggested that we put the topic on hold. I missed the cue. In my eagerness to resolve the conversation, I hoped to clarify my point of view. My friend then offered a valuable question. She asked, “Do you hope I will see things your way if you keep talking about it?” Ouch. Her question was hard to hear, but it was very helpful to me. I think it will shift the way I think for the better.

Unfortunately, my disappointment continued to grow before her question sunk in. That makes me a bit arrogant and thick. Sigh again. Why is it we don’t always think clearly in moments of frustration? After we said goodbye, I had a hard time concentrating on much else. It wasn’t because we had a difference of opinion. Rather it was because I felt misunderstood. Hmmm. What else is someone who is arrogant to think? The fact is my reasons didn’t matter. My friend was right. Then something cool happened.

During my frustration, a proverb came to mind. “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:8-9) At that moment, I didn’t feel very wise. Thankfully, it’s not too late to change.

My story may not be the best evidence, but I highly value differing opinions. I tend to learn more from friends who offer another perspective. In the case of my friend, I’ve noticed that when she has challenged me in the past, whether I am right or wrong, she usually sees something that I cannot. I am grateful for that insight.

In some areas I am a very slow learner. I’m afraid this is one of them. Fortunately, I think I am making progress. I now realize that my persistence didn’t match the gift of openness that I value so much. More importantly, I discovered that an honest observation can provide some good instruction. I believe it will help me to be a much better friend.

It is good to be wise. It is better yet to have friends with wisdom. How lucky I am to have such a friend.

What I Believe…

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