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The Process of Wismosis

April 14th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 13: 20-21 (NLT)

 20 Walk with the wise and become wise;
      associate with fools and get in trouble.

 21 Trouble chases sinners,
      while blessings reward the righteous.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Wisdom is a tricky thing sometimes.  It seems to run from us like a fugitive, eluding our grasp and frustrating our endeavors.  In hind sight, we lament what could have been if we only would have had the wisdom that only present knowledge has revealed.  If only I would have known not to say that, I might still be married.  If only I would have known to invest my money there, I wouldn’t be in financial ruin today.  If only I would have known that what I was eating was detrimental to my health, I wouldn’t be in this hospital bed.

The search for wisdom is often a string of painful “if onlys”.

It’s not just about the piece of knowledge required to complete a task or succeed at a project or relationship.  That’s like desiring the next required turn while traveling out of town in a foreign environment.  Just because someone tells you to take the next left doesn’t mean that you now know where you are or where you are going.  More information will be required.  What’s missing isn’t just isolated instances.  What’s missing is the road map and the wherewithal to read it properly.

Wisdom is the ability to see the map and forge a plan of action as the terrain changes before you.  It’s the ability to assess the whole picture in context and react accordingly.  It’s that uncanny discernment that helps one know when to react in “black and white” terms and when to sit back and relax in the gray because of the confidence that the correct answer will show itself when things eventually play themselves out.  It’s not a knowledge of all the answers, but rather the wisdom to deal with issues as they appear over the next horizon.

How do we find this kind of wisdom?  Can we buy it?  Can we get it through education?  This passage gives us a hint to the answer: “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”  Walking with those who have wisdom can be a fun experience . . . it’s like they’re always ahead of the game . . . anticipating the next move that life will make and preparing for it accordingly.  They don’t live in reaction, but rather proaction.

To be around someone is to absorb who they are.  That’s how cultures are formed.  Over time, we begin to speak in similar terms, solve problems with similar techniques, and pursue similar dreams.  We even eat similar foods.  So, to find wisdom, we must spend time absorbing it from someone who actually has it.  This “wismosis” (that’s the osmosis of wisdom . . . hey, I’m writing here!) only happens when we let our lives be exposed to other lives filled with the good stuff.

We can find this wisdom through reading their books, listening to their podcasts, or even reading their blogs (better keep surfing– I’m still in the oven on this one).  However, the most effective transference occurs directly . . . by direct interaction . . . observing their actions and words.  It takes something special to truly “walk with the wise.”  Humility.  The admittance that we have more to learn.  Sure, we know this, but to admit it is something else altogether.

It is like they know something we don’t know . . . and they do: it’s wisdom!  If you’re looking for wisdom, you’ll know when you’re around a person who has it because their every movement and dialogue pours it forth.  They’re not always deliberately trying to teach; it is just a natural flow.

The question is: will we be cupping our hands to catch the deluge . . . will we carry buckets around to capture this precious wisdom and drink it ourselves?  

Like most adages of wisdom, the opposite is usually true in opposite fashion.  If wisdom is absorbable, so is trouble.  In fact, trouble is transferred between acquaintances much more often than wisdom, “chasing” those who can’t seem to figure out what went wrong.  The answer isn’t always what you’re doing, but more so with whom you’re walking.  

Don’t just look within, look without and around as well.  It all matters.



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