Have you ever considered just how hard it is to get the knowledge we form in our heads to begin to affect our hearts? It seems like we can almost be beaten over the head with the same lessons (knowledge) until we are almost numb, yet totally miss the formation of any wisdom which keeps us from doing the same silly thing over and over again! Then we find ourselves getting all down on ourselves, God and others just because we failed! What's that all about?
Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head—you'll find a good life. (Proverbs 19:8 The Message)
First of all, let me say something which may open your eyes a little. You and I are not in this alone! There are others just like us, seemingly being hit over the head with the same lessons time and time again. We have similar natures - therefore, we have similar responses! So, lest you think you are the only one struggling with your present battle, look around. You will begin to see others who struggle similarly (maybe not exactly like you, but close enough). Maybe it is time we "team up" to overcome some of the stuff which has been leaving us in such a quandary!
Solomon points us to the first truth: Wisdom is not learned, it is grown! Here is where we often go wrong. We think just because we are exposed to a truth or two, we will change our pattern of behavior. Wrong! Patterns take time to learn, therefore, they take time to un-learn. When something is grown, it is developed over time. It comes as a "course" of learning. We learned to write our names long before we learned to write our first essay. So, why do we have an attitude about learning God's truth in our lives in anything other than a systematic and "patterned developmental" way?
We GROW a wise heart - we don't just get one off the shelf somewhere. Growth literally refers to a gradual increase. As we embrace a little of the truth we are exposed to, allowing it to even affect one area of our lives, it begins to allow for the next phase of our growth. At church this week, the pastor was speaking about the importance of building trust in relationships. He commented trust is built on truth. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Learning to trust God is built on embracing his truths revealed in his Word. As we even embrace one truth, such as "keep a clear head", we begin to develop trust in the principles taught throughout scripture.
Solomon indicated the wise heart is linked directly to the clarity of our head. Most of the muddle we find ourselves in is in the thinking we engage in! I had a friend instant message me this week with the opening statement, "I've been thinking..." Now, don't get me wrong, I am an advocate of thinking! Yet, I believe we might just spend a little too much time "muddling over" stuff in our brains and not enough time getting any clarity of thought!
Do you know what clarity of the mind is really like? Think of a glass of water. When you hold the glass up to the light, what does it do? It reflects the light, does it not? It is transparent and therefore, it is able to reflect the light which is passing through it! A clear mind is one which is transparent - it is not in a muddle of a mess of thought. I have learned the secret of "un-muddling" my thoughts. It comes in a couple of different ways. First, I take them to God. I speak openly with him about the stuff I am worrying over. Then, I have good friends who act as great sounding-boards. They have learned a skill called "listening" - reflecting back to me my own thoughts in such a way so as to bring clarity. I also use a technique known as journaling. I actually like to write, so this is easier for me than some. Yet, you could be doing it without even really trying that hard. For example, have you ever made a "pro" and "con" list when considering a particular course of action? You are journaling.
Now, if you haven't picked this up so far, the truth we focus on today is clarity of mind and its impact on developing wisdom which is reflected in our behavior. Behavior change without clarity of mind is pretty much like shooting an arrow in the dark. You may hit something, but it may not be anywhere close to the target! We have to "un-muddle" our minds - get them to a place of transparency - in order to make progress. You know what my friend was doing when she said, "I've been thinking..."? She was working on "un-muddling" her thoughts. We can "mull" stuff over so many times, it becomes a mish-mosh of thoughts - lacking any semblance of order or clarity.
Seeking clarity is the first step in growing a wise heart. When we begin to get our thoughts in order, we begin to see the actions we need to take. Just sayin....