Day 22 Found Wisdom: How to Navigate the Overwhelming

That last post may have left you staggering. The amount of deception and wrong steering that we may face in any day–from purposeful deceivers, from misled people, from our own self-deceptions, or from just faulty information–can seem so daunting that you might want just to sit on the sideline and not. do. anything. for fear of misstepping. 

Such paralysis (which I can be quite prone to myself) is not the answer. With or without perfect discernment, failing to get up and move positively through the life God gave us deserves the warning I got from another one of those fortune cookie messages. This one made me laugh out loud after I smoothed it out and read,

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there!”

I laughed because I know myself. I laughed because it was so convicting.

But how can one make one’s way through this deceptive world, this difficult thing called life, and not proceed into outright disaster?

Well, there are road maps. And navigating without one can be very daunting. As I found out just this month on my journey to my latest retreat, at a new and unfamiliar location. I even exclaimed amid my tense superhighway driving, “Dear God, I need a road map! Oh, how I wish I had a road map!”

The Google directions I’d gotten had looked so easy. Just drive up the nearest highway for fifteen minutes, get on the superhighway, and follow it for 168 miles. A few short back roads after that and I’d be there.

Yes, it seemed so easy, till I started up the on ramp and saw all the mobs of tractor-trailers, car-carriers, tandem-haulers, with a few SUVs and fewer still smaller vehicles (like mine) sprinkled here and there—and saw the speed limit sign: 70 miles per hour! Which meant this was the minimum speed almost everyone would be driving…

Now maybe you’re young and used to this. But I’m neither! And to realize that I’d have to continue this kind of travel for 168 miles (on sleep deficit) was, well, almost shocking! But I felt like I’d gotten onto a gerbil wheel and just had to keep going. And going. And going.

There were rest stops. If you want to call them that. (I’ll not get into it.) But I knew nowhere else to go than on that challenging long-haul, high-speed, high-tension route.

We used to have road maps. If only I had one now! I lamented, and resolved that if I survived this trip, I’d go right out and obtain at least one (which I haven’t done yet). With an actual hard copy map, you can see the big picture. You can see the variety of routes, good and bad. You can map out your own preferences. And if you run into difficulties, delays, or hindrances, you can reconsult your map and plan an alternative. But without a map, not a chance!

After I did actually arrive at the retreat camp, and later discovered I could get wifi, I wasted some of my “silent solitude” trying to use Google Maps to plan an alternative way home. I wanted to use that superhighway for part of the route, then get off and take less intense roadways (because the “avoid highways” option almost tripled my driving time, which my eyes just can’t do, and would get me back after dark, which night driving my eyes can’t do well either). But Google kept dumping me back onto the superhighway. Utterly frustrating! Till I had Big Brother G plan two separate segments; the first a trip on the super to a named destination, the second from that destination to “home” on lesser roadways.

But a roadmap would have been easier. And more helpful.

Well, God does give us a road map. You know what that is. The Bible. It’s not just a tome full of erudite sayings and insightful stories about people throughout time. It’s loaded with practical directions, which, if followed, will get you safely where you need to go.

Yep. Have a road map. And use it.

However, there’s an even better way.

Next time…

*****

 

 

Day 21 Found Wisdom: Why We Believe Lies–From Without and Within

To know wisdom we must be able to discern and avoid lies and distorted thinking, but this may be the hardest part of “All things good to know [being] dfficult to learn.”

Perhaps the most important thing we need to know is why and how we’re vulnerable to believing lies or suppressing truth–from within ourselves as well as from others.

Through my life I’ve had to learn a lot of this the hard way, and the wisdom I gained came from the “hard knocks” of realizing I’d been duped, or just plain wasn’t facing reality. I suppose this is unavoidable to some extent. But in recent years I have learned a lot about where I’m likely to accept falsehood, and why and how others might be aiding and abetting it, often without realizing it. This area of learning is huge, and I don’t suppose anyone could gain it all in a lifetime. But if you want to venture into some learning experiences that might arm you against accepting falsehood, here are some that have been breakthroughs for me:

For one, there is within ourselves a strong leaning toward “denial” of realities we find too painful to accept. I “found” this wisdom most strikingly long ago in Al Anon, where I came to learn that the person least likely to admit to someone’s alcoholism is the person him- or herself–and/or the person closest to them in life, like a spouse. 

“Denial” is just one of a whole list of :”defense mechanisms” we ourselves or other people in our lives may be using to avoid facing and dealing with painful truth. By searching online as I put this post together, I found these fifteen you might want to read and think about!

Once upon a time, I observed a whole church business meeting erupt into bizarre behavior to keep from accepting the fact of error or wrongdoing on the part of their leadership. It wasn’t until six weeks later that I thought to google “causes of mob mentality,” and learned about a phenomenon called “groupthink,” a powerful group force that suppresses truth by collective avoidance/denial. This phenomenon can occur in close groups of even highly intelligent and informed people and has evidently been at the root of some of the most “disastrous” governmental decisions in history. So it’s worth knowing something about, to perhaps keep from being part of it oneself!

Besides these largely subconscious ways that we or others keep us from truth there are those folks out there purposefully playacting, lying, and manipulating for their own personal advancement and avoidance of consequenses for their wrong behaviors. In the last decade or so I became painfully aware of the existence of people who exhibit the behaviors of covert aggression, multiple diversion tactics, purposeful and conscious “projection” (see the first article link above), and behaviors designed purposely to undermine and sabotage anyone they see as competition or otherwise a threat to their agenda, or whom they simply want to control by putting them in a “one-down” position. These people may be defined as having “narcissitic personality disorder,” or even be sociopathic or psychopathic while looking like the nicest person you ever met! And the percentage of our population that’s made of such is enough to take your breath away.

If one out of every ten or twenty people among us tends to one of these categories, as research shows us, we would really do well to learn about their tactics and how to keep from being badly victimized–or led astray–by them. Just think: how many people do you relate to on some kind of social, business, or church basis? Divide by ten or twenty, and you have the likely number of these folks you can expect to be interacting with in an average population. And don’t think that being largely church-oriented in your social sphere keeps you safer, for the percentages there prove actually to be higher!

No wonder Jesus told his disciples to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” and to beware of hypocrites! Innocence alone is not enough. We need to be savvy, too. I think the operative bibilical word is “discernment.”

*****

 

 

Found Wisdom Day 20: Truth, Freedom, and Difficulty

If you have been following this series, did you notice this bit of wisdom, hiding in the shadows, back in the collage on the acronym T-R-U-T-H?

And on the next page, this?

 

These were cut from a scrapbooking paper filled with “sayings.”

I  present the two of them together because I think their juxtaposition stirs the brain a bit more.

What do you think about them? Do you agree with what they claim? Which one resonates with you more?

Something to muse about on your weekend break.

*****

 

 

 

Found Wisdom #19: Sometimes You Just Have to…

For “Found Wisdom” Day 19, just this:

And a little passage of scripture wisdom:

To everything [there is] a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: …  

A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;  

A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;

-Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6-7 NKJV

Because this is the wisdom I needed yesterday. This is what I needed to do! So yes, this post is “a day late,” but refer to the above illustration and this past post for further explanation.

I have much to say about what leads us to believe lies, and even tell lies to ourselves. Too much, really! How it all swirls in my mind! Like that shaken jar of river water. I need to let it all settle and clarify.

Plus, it’s the weekend, and what are weekends for if not for stopping, resting, stilling the chaos, and settling?

So, for yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I’ll just be posting three short bits of wisdom related to the topics at hand.

Then hopefully all will clarify for Monday’s post.

In the meantime, may you find in your weekend time to stop, rest, still the chaos, and settle! 🙂

 

Day 18 Found Wisdom: In Your Own Responses

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. -Proverbs 20:5 NIV

Yesterday this acronym appeared in this blog series:

Its progression toward clarity and healing may seem simple, but it’s so complex it could form the basis of a long book!

So I can’t do it justice in one or two blogs. But I’d like to consider its second phase, because one thing we need to understand is ourselves, and our responses (or non-responses) can reveal lots about our individual inner workings.

In most basic form, we could approach the T-R-U-T-H progession in terms of biblical verity and faith: A trial (“spiritual test”) confronts us; we react somehow emotionally, intellectually, maybe even physically; we stop and ponder our response and whether it indicates faith in Bible truth or misleading lies of the “world the flesh and the devil,” and make any corrections accordingly.

Easy-peasy, right? Wrong. It’s just not that simple.

First, it’s not always easy to figure out why we reacted as we did, especially if our reaction surprised us. We need to dig deep to determine what prompted our reaction: Deep-seated fear? Long-standing resentment? Elation at an unspoken and barely recognized dream or longstanding desire appearing to get fulfilled—or despair at its getting shattered?

And second, our first response may not indicate our hearts at all. I use myself as a case in point–because my initial response to any event might seem very calm, unruffled and unaffected; but later… whoo! That’s when the surprise, even shock, comes for me!

I think I first became profoundly aware of this information about myself over 40 years ago, at, and some time after, a car race. Paying attention to my later reactions to other events affirmed the reality of my own “response quirk.”

I had long balked at attending car races. Not only was I un-fond of dirt, loud noise, and gasoline fumes, I had no desire to see anyone get mashed up in an accident, and I was filled with trepidation that this is exactly what I’d see. But finally talked into giving the experience a try, I found myself sitting on a hard bleachers seat, smelling fumes, bombarded by the roaring of engines, and watching the dust clouds rise from behind the tires spinning round and round, round and round the track—a repeated cycle that began soon to look ridiculous to me as I began to observe from an almost out-of-body viewpoint. The minor crashes of autos into each other upset me, and I think I withdrew in this way to shield my sensibilities.

Then it happened: Careening around the bend, totally out of control, one of the cars ran smack up against the guard fence on our side of the track, and before my eyes the vehicle rose in slow motion high into the air, floated into a flip, and descended, upside down on our side of the fence. Crash!!

The reaction of all the crowd around me made an interesting study: some people jumped to their feet and lunged forward toward the upside-down auto, a second bunch rose trembling, turned and fled up the bleachers, away from the wreck (presumably to escape, although they were really trapping themselves high above the exit). And then there were the few like me, who sat unmoving, slowly thinking, “That car could explode. We should stand up. We should get away from here…” But action in my body didn’t happen. I just thought about what I ought to do.

Clearly, in retrospect, in light of later learning, I realize I reacted possum-like in freeze mode, while some others did the “fight” and still others the “flight” alternatives. None of the above were brilliant. But they were typical human responses.

At that point, the loud speaker and the waving arms of some officials in front of us instructed all of us to clear that section of the stadium, and the group I was part of decided just to pile into our own car and go home.

As I sat in the back seat, with excited babble going on around me, I silently congratulated myself on my serenity in the midst of such chaos. (Smug little me.)

But the next morning brought new revelations. Sitting at the breakfast table, I sipped my hot coffee and hardly paid much attention to my husband, talking across the table. Till he brought up the calamity of the night before. No, not even the calamity. He simply mentioned the car race.

With a shocking abruptness and sharpness of voice, I rose, scraping my chair loudly in the process, and burst out angrily, “I don‘t want to talk about it!”

Hm.

Yup.

That’s how I “don’t react” react. To many things. I’ve come to see myself wryly (but no longer proudly) as a “master of the delayed reaction.”

So my initial response to anything carries no credibility. I often have to wait a few days—or even longer—to find out what I think!

Anybody else out there like me? Even if not, what erupts, early or late, in some future crisis you find yourself in, might totally flabbergast you.

However, sooner or later, all this helps reveal what’s going on inside, and eventually, what you really feel, think, and believe.

As for believing lies, and identifying what particular lies we are believing, and how we came to believe them… that’s somewhat a work of art, too. (More about that in a future post.)

*****