Day 25 Found Wisdom: Getting Freed from the Past

I must have found today’s wisdom twice!

I had it in the wings to write about this week, and had picked out photos of a collage it had inspired, to use as illustration.

But yesterday, sorting though my art things, I came upon a little book that I’d used to collect last year’s 31 Mini-Collages. Here I now also saw a few additional (mini) collages I’d done and included shortly after that time, but had forgotten about till leafing now through the little book.

This was one of them:

Be not the slave of your own past…”

That’s all it says.

But that’s just the beginning of the famous quote. This first collage of mine leaves the viewer hanging…

The pictures in it hint that the slavery it’s addressing revolves around tradition or family history. And both can get a strong hold on a person and not want to let go.

I had just observed an interesting example last week:

I’d gone out to lunch with a friend. The wind blew blustery and biting in the parking lot; so naturally we made a beeline for the closest door. Alas, the closest door turned out to be locked; so we made our way, shivering, around to the front of the building and entered by the main entrance.

After an enjoyable lunch, when we stood up to leave, I turned to go out the side door that had been locked but now was obviously unlocked, at least from the inside. But my friend said, “I can’t go out that door. I have to go out the front door.” I just stood looking quizzical, waiting for an explanation. As we moved toward the front door, she explained: “I’m Pennsylvania Dutch. I’ve always been told you should never go out a different door from the one you came in.”

Omygoodness! I thought. I had the same heritage, and I now remembered that same admonition in my own family. But I’d completely forgotten it. And I don’t think I ever learned just why, supposedly, you  should always exit by the same door you entered.

My friend didn’t know either. It was just a tradition from childhood, but it still had a firm grip on her after decades of adulthood.

Whether Emerson was referring to tradition I don’t know, but when you read the whole context of what he wrote, you’ll probably suspect there’s much more to it than that. For it speaks of gaining self-respect among other things. And, where the brief bit of quote above gives no clue as to how one might avoid being a slave to such things, the context it comes from does:

My second collage about the same quote.

Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, Dive deep, and swim far.

So you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”

“Plunge into the sublime seas”! Whatever Emerson had in mind by that, what it signifies to me is diving deep into fellowship with Christ, soaking up His presence, getting in tune with His widsom and His ways, walking–or, “swimming”–with him in profound, holy, yielded fellowship.

What could better give you self-respect and new power, and an advanced experience that could explain and overlook the old one?


Q: What are some ways you  could be enslaved by your past?

(Remedy: “Plunge into the sublime seas…””)



Day 24 Found Wisdom: About “No More” and the Color Purple

Tomorrow, October 25th, is Purple Thursday.

Do you know what that is?

Do you know how important and helpful to millions of people it might be for you simply to wear the color purple tomorrow?

It’s about domestic violence awareness and prevention. It’s a public statement that says “No more!” 

My awareness about this terrible blight on our homes and entire culture has grown hugely in recent years, and this month it grew a bit more via this found wisdom in a county library display:

This is a US national statistic.
The stat I unfortunately cut off in this photo is a shocking 10 million victims annually!
Though this is the NCADV’s definition, most statistics like the ones mentioned above do not include emotional/psychological abuse, which is a very real health- and even life-threatening phenomenon. It is just hard to prove, and therefore is omitted from stats and court cases, where it robs time from proving actual physical crimes, a more achievable endeavor.
Just the social change of public attitude about domestic violence/abuse can have a surprisingly strong deterrent effect. That’s why more and more people wearing purple on Purple Thursday and becoming more aware about domestic violence can be so valuable.

There are many who feel they have no voice. Another stat I read reported that 65% of domestic violence victims said they received no help. Many are not even believed when they do try to tell.

Shall we take a stand? Shall we, just quietly and individually, accept this invitation from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence:

“Make a fashion statement that really says something: wear something purple on Thursday, October 25th to honor victims and support survivors of domestic violence! This year marks the 7th annual observance of Purple Thursday, the awareness day launched by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence that’s now gone national with Purple Thursday observances in Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma…”

I’m wearing purple tomorrow, how about you?

For more about Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Purple Thursday click here.

For more about “No More…!” click here.



Day 23 Found Wisdom: The Best Roadmap.

In the last post I said there’s a better means of navigating life’s challenges than by trying to know and follow all the relevant instructions in the Bible correctly. And there is!

I found this wisdom (at my first silent retreat) in a book by Henry Blackaby (et al) called Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. In it he related a sort of personal-experience parable that helps show how Jesus Himself can be our direction-giver, our “road map,” and be far more reliable than our trying to follow mapped out guidance or multi-step directions by our own wits.

He told of how a local farmer had given him instructions to find his house. There were landmarks to note and turns to make in a long series. He finally did make it to the farmer’s house (to his near astonishment), but the next time he went to the farmer’s house, the farmer himself got into his car and told him where to turn at each moment he needed to do it. He didn’t give him more than one step at a time. He didn’t have to, because he was right there with Blackaby to guide him through each part of the journey. (And giving him further directions beyond that immediate step at the time would likely only have “muddied the waters,” and confused him.)

What Blackaby was talking about was surrendering your own mapped out plans and instead tuning in attentively to Christ throughout your journey—not asking for more than one step at a time, not needing to see the whole way to the end, but trusting him with the present turns to make or bypass.

This can be really hard for us who want to be in charge of every aspect of our own lives, who want to have it all lined up so neatly in our own heads before we proceed, who want, in fact, to see the end from the beginning. But it’s Christ whom we need to yield to as the One in Charge. It’s Christ who does already see from the beginning where we’re meant to arrive at journey’s end. The difference lies in trusting Him instead of putting our trust in our own wisdom, judgment, and “traveling abilities.”

Does this mean we should throw out the Bible? Certainly not. But without leaning on his guidance even to make our way through the scriptures, do we really think we can get it all right and make no mistakes?

I believe this moment-by-moment leading of Christ is what happened to me this past weekend. I had become unsure of my way, unsure I was doing the right thing, on the right path. The evident opinions of a couple different people who did not know the particulars of my situation or the exact path that I was on were leaving me feeling “wrong,” almost shamed, and I took this problem before the Lord. “Am I doing wrong?” I asked, earnestly. “Am I headed in the wrong direction? Please let me know.”  

A random look in my Bible didn’t give me any concrete answer. Nor did turning on the radio and hearing the message someone was giving on a Christian station. But as I just continued through my day with Christ, a whole series of amazing things began to happen–which in sum total thoroughly affirmed that I was “traveling” rightly. When I sat back afterward and reviewed it all, I was just plain awed at what God had lined up for me that would not have happened on a different trajectory. 

Yes, Jesus is the road map, He is the way. He is not only the most reliable GPS, but also the most awe-evoking! If you haven’t experienced this sort of thing, try it: try putting your reliance on Him, and keeping close to Him, and see where He leads you, what He causes to transpire. It might change your whole approach to life.