If hindsight is 20/20, then I can clearly see my failings and falterings from 2016. Too much sugar, too little exercise; too much yelling, too little grace; too many messes, too few checked-off tasks. We can see the political circus and the social drama. But after 35 New Year’s Eves, I have learned this proven truth: there is no going back. The only opportunity the past holds for you is regret, and you don’t want to set up camp there.
I’ve also celebrated enough January 1sts to know that it is full of well-intentioned resolutions backed up by lack of action and determination. By February, many treadmills and bank accounts are empty again, despite the desire to lose weight or gather savings.
This year, I’m avoiding resolutions and clinging to a word, a mantra, that I am confident will help me live a more fulfilled, less stressful, life. You are hanging on the edge of your seat by now, right? Katie is about to reveal an Oprah-book-list worthy idea to revolutionize our lives. Nope. The word is simple, the execution difficult. The word is: wisdom.
Think of the worst situation you experienced last year. If you look at it in retrospect, likely it could have been avoided or mitigated through your own, or someone else’s, wisdom. A few months ago, the girls and I ran out of gas about half a mile away from home on a busy road. After numerous unanswered calls to Nick and my parents and some muttered frustrations, I dragged the girls out of the car and we slogged along the shoulder as cars whipped past. I was mad, at my gas tank that failed me, at my husband who I pictured blissfully napping with his phone on silent, at the world for its cursed unfairness. But you know what? I should have filled the gas tank days ago. Wisdom would be prepared and preplanned. This walk home was just a small analogy for all the times I failed to make a wise decision: a fight I found myself in with a daughter that pitted us against each other in ugly ways, a missed opportunity to share Christ with a loved one, a pile of papers stacked up to a tight deadline because I had put them off, all revealed within me a lack of wisdom.
I think 2016 was a banner year for revealing the lack of wisdom on a larger scale in our society. I don’t need to rehash political failings and public embarrassments caused by people’s lack of wisdom. I don’t need to harp on the public policy decisions that seem to go against every wise form of forethought I can imagine. And I certainly don’t want to join the ranks of finger pointers who are quick to focus on the failings outside of themselves. Instead, I am going to focus on the small step of wise choices that I can make.
Wisdom is the intersection of intelligence and integrity, the place where our decisions reveal our inner desire for truth. Seeking wisdom will make us better workers, better parents, better spouses, better citizens, and better people in general. I also know that left to my own devices, just like in my car analogy, I will fail. Wisdom is not an innate part of my makeup. For me, wisdom has to come from a close walk with Christ, who reveals in a multitude of ways what choices are best.
I want to pray like Solomon:
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” ( 1 Kings 3:7-14)
My desire is to have wisdom and discernment, because life is hard, and 2017 is going to be full of decisions and difficulties that I will not be able to face on my own. James 1:5 promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I am clinging to that promise, because this world needs all the wisdom it can get.