I am coming into myself, leaning into the age where I assumed most people start fighting for a drop of true wisdom or leaping headlong into unforgiving foolishness. In 28 days, I will walk into age 36 on my way to my 40s and 50s. I look forward to growing older, the ripening of my personal maturity into something fuller and more meaningful for those around me.
Quite frankly, I have always wanted to be older. It seemed to me that before now, I was forever struggling with myself. I never had or found my place. I floated through life mimicking who I thought people would like for me to be rather than diving into who God created me to be. I figured that all of the older people I knew (and admired, of course) had it together, seeming to understand and know what to do and how to be. I faltered at every turn, getting up and moving forward only because I figured that as I got older things would be better and plainer to me.
And I was right! It has taken some doing but I am finally beginning to bloom into a graceful and gracious human being. Yet even as I flower, my thoughts on wisdom and age have changed drastically. As I look around, it has dawned on me that most folks don’t get wiser with age. I fact, lots of them get STUPIDER.
If I were my mean and unruly self, I could just starting naming all of the dumb stuff and ignorant people in my life RIGHT NOW–most of them older than me. But I won’t because you know people like that, too. These people will rarely do better even unto death–not because they lack the capacity to do so. Rather, they have refused to engage in the ONE BEHAVIOR that guarantees wisdom: LEARNING FROM THEIR EXPERIENCES.
It is easy to navigate joy and pleasure and happiness and good things happening; it requires a kind of patient endurance that most folks lack to find meaning in the challenging things that occur. The lessons needed to grow into wisdom sit behind hurt and failure and anger and regret and shame and revenge and sorrow and grief and secret-keeping and finger-pointing and blame. Wisdom reclines quietly behind forgiveness and healing. Wisdom’s conversation says, “That was hard, but you are better now because of it–and here’s all the ways how and reasons why.”
Too many people choose to never learn from mistakes made by them or painful situations created by others that hurt them. Looking past yourself to something greater takes work. Not doing it guarantees that you repeat the same processes over and over. It may be easier to live without growing, but it certainly is not worth it in the end. You end up being old and foolish and hurt, useful to the younger generations around you only as a cautionary tale that few will stop and listen to.
You want to affect change in the generations around you? Then wisdom is the principle thing. You want your own life to stop going around the same mountain? Get an understanding.