When I was younger, I became smarter and wiser each year. I learned about more and more things, and I gained an understanding that comes from making connections and thinking more deeply. I guess we all do that. I would hope so.
As a newly married twenty-something I was quite well informed. I knew how to run a household and how to juggle work and life. I was a good teacher and could explain the best practices and the reasons why I chose to teach as I did – as well as why I lived as I did. Always sure I was doing things the right way.
Having a baby brought some uncertainly but I mastered that pretty quickly. The second birth and child rearing came much easier because I was an expert by then. I knew how people should act and what was expected, and I had high expectations for others because, I knew, that is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Somewhere along the way things changed. Now, in my upper fifties, I have more questions than answers. I am not always certain of what I should do, or, when I do decide, the best way to do it. I can’t always spot the root of a problem and I rarely know immediately how to handle tough situations.
The world has changed, that is for sure. But that is not what changed me. The things that have caused me to consider things differently are the things that have always been a part of everyone’s lives:
- My body has gotten older, with aches and pains and surprising ailments I never expected. Yet I remain healthy. But I think more about others that have conditions and diseases, even those with gathering, minor, age-related issues like me, and I have more concern and care for them. When I say I will be thinking of someone, or that I will pray for them, these days I really do it.
- It takes me longer to think through things. That’s because experience has taught me there is more than one side to ponder on before deciding which direction to take. Yet there is still black and white, the world does not exist in gray. And so even though I don’t jump to conclusions any more, I know there is a right answer every time. Even if it takes me longer to discover it.
- There have been tragedies and losses that have deeply affected me. I have mourned the deaths of loved ones, family and friends alike, and I have considered the value of a mere barely-breathing existence as well as a life well-lived. So now I spend more time soaking in (at least trying to) the blessings and gifts of an ordinary day. Because each day is so very, very special.
My husband read something about Billy Graham once, that he was so sure of things when he was a young preacher, and had all the answers for everyone. But as he grew older, he had more questions without answers and hesitated to give advice so freely as before. I can relate.
The experiences we chalk up here on this earth help us learn to live a more understanding life, if we choose to let them. I am grateful that I don’t have to rule the world or even be in charge of any one other person. I have enough trouble handling me. But I am thankful for the life lessons I have learned.
And most importantly I have such deep gratitude that the God we serve is immutable, unchanging, and ever present with us, if we only take time to know Him better and search His ways.
I am glad to know I am not as smart as I used to be, just a little wiser and more aware of my place in this world. I now know – and better understand – how small I am and how very BIG God is. And that explains everything I need to know.