The Speed of Wisdom

I texted someone 8 minutes ago and am slightly annoyed that she hasn’t told me the time of something on Thursday.

I sent an email between that text and now and hope to hear back before this blog is posted so I can sign up for something.

I get bored at traffic lights and wish I still had Facebook on my phone.

And I’m not the only one. OK, I might be the only one without Facebook on my phone, but I’m certainly not the only one who has used a newsfeed to pass the time at a red light.

Despite the fact that we all had to sit through commercials watching sitcoms in the ’80s, when teenagers on television were actually played by teenagers, we have forgotten how to wait. We might judge teenagers today who have no idea what it was like to get a busy signal or leave a message on an answering machine that may not be heard for hours, but we’re not much different than they are. We have been sucked into the idea that now is better and waiting, if you don’t have to, is wasteful.

We can all laugh at checking our email in grocery store lines or playing games on our phones before someone meets us at a restaurant, but how has this culturally-created inability to wait for moments effected our expectations for those things that take – and should take – much longer?

More specifically, how does our conscious or subconscious expectation for immediacy in so many other areas of life effect our perspective on wisdom and practice of living wisely?

I’m reading Proverbs these days. It’s not a book that I typically sit down and read a few chapters at a time, but my chronological Bible has me there this week, so that’s what’s happening. (I tend to play by the rules with these things.) It’s the book known for its nuggets of wisdom and one-line zingers that are both convicting and encouraging.

Reading it a few chapters at a time, however, has made me think more about the longevity of wisdom. We, in our 2013 instantaneous world, easily forget that being wise takes time. It doesn’t develop over night and it’s not a result of one or two momentary decisions. Being wise is being there for the long-haul. Being wise means making godly choices and living well consistently. And being wise isn’t instant at all.

In fact, the short-term pay off from being wise is sometimes the more difficult choice. It’s the one that meets our immediate felt desires but ignores our long-term unfelt needs. Well, duh. We all know this.

What I have been learning lately, however, is that creating opportunities to practice patience is both frustrating and beneficial, and it will help me learn to live wisely when I don’t want to or know it’ll be uncomfortable. As I practice waiting a few minutes here and a few minutes there, waiting for a few more minutes gets easier. Really. It does. I deleted the Facebook App from my phone to force myself to stand in a grocery store check out line or wait at a red light without something to do. And it’s harder than you think to not text, check email or do something else to pass the time instead of reading my newsfeed. But it’s been good. It’s been good because it’s helping me learn to wait. Again. I wonder if I was better at waiting before all this awesome technology that I love so much?

[Note: I love technology. My parents met at IBM in 1967. I have two Macs sitting on my desk at home from where I type, and my iPhone is a tool that helps me do ministry well. I am not knocking technology. I simply want to be aware on how new habits can change me when I’m not paying attention.]

What does this have to do with wisdom? Everything. At least to me. When I think of several specific situations where I want the outcome of living wisely, I am well aware that none of them will happen today. None will be the result of a Facebook post, the answer to a question in email or sent in a text message. They just won’t be. They will take days or weeks or months or years. I know that. They will take prayer, discipline, words and actions. Patiently practicing wisely today for the results of tomorrow.

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One thought on “The Speed of Wisdom

  1. beautiful and encouraging. I’ve recently started trying to keep my phone in my purse when I’m at the airport, so I’m forced to people watch. Which turns out to be more entertaining than people watching on Facebook.

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