“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” — St. Teresa of Avila
I LOVE this quote! But what wisdom can you harness to fuel your actions in everyday life to be a positive Christian role model for your children?
In my upcoming book, “The Pivotal Life: A Compass For Discovering Purpose, Passion & Perspective,” I explore the topic of wisdom. For purposes of this article, I am interested in how, we as parents, can access wisdom outside of the pews for everyday living. The wiser our own life’s direction, the better off our kids will be witnessing us.
We live during a time when we have access to more information in one day than most people 100 years ago could access over the course of their lifetimes. Forget our schools and libraries – the smartphone is so smart it can make us feel dumb.
When I Googled, “Wisdom,” I came up with 290 million possibilities. Where can I start my search for wisdom? Is it those websites or articles that paid the most advertising dollars to be within the top 10 searches?
Would it be the articles from someone considered an “expert” or someone with a Ph.D. next to their name? What if the wisdom I was searching for on a particular day was actually written months or years earlier and it was now buried underneath thousands of other articles? I need wisdom on how just to search for wisdom.
I’ll save you a relentless, stressful search. Much of the wisdom you need already lies within you.
There is a pervasive Christian ethic woven into the fabric of our society that we often don’t look to for wisdom. The wisdom of Christ is stitched into the tapestries of our ancestors.
You have been surrounded by people and their collective wisdom your whole life. You have been taught by a variety of teachers, coaches and pastors. You have interacted with community leaders, parents and grandparents who in turn were brought up directly or indirectly in a Christian-influenced culture.
In public or private schools you have been introduced to historical Christian figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare, Copernicus, Galileo, not to mention the saints, and the list goes on. This collective group has already influenced you and your culture whether you know it or not.
I would bet most of these ancestral voices, as well as childhood teachers and mentors, downloaded wonderful Christ-centered values and ethics into you that you simply have to learn to access.
The question should not be, “Where can I access wisdom?” Rather, “When do I want to access all the tremendous wisdom already imprinted onto my heart?”
– Step 1
– Step 2
Ask yourself what wisdom
– Step 3
Listening is an art — like the art of journaling. Taking quiet time to contemplate a question is challenging because the obstacle to that is stress and anxiety. Usually when we are in need of some particular wisdom we are in the state of panic, like the sudden urge of hunger.
We want to order wisdom like it is a fast food item on a menu at a drive-thru, believing it will nourish us for the long haul. If we desire fulfilling, healthy wisdom, we should expect nothing less than a slow-cooked meal, prepared with care.
Seeking wisdom is called discernment. It is the ability to judge well, not just to determine a direction, rather, a positive, life-giving direction.
Whether through the process of contemplation in your thoughts, or by use of pen to paper in journaling, ask yourself what you already know. This is the art or gift of summoning the Holy Spirit. If you are seeking wisdom on how to handle a difficult situation, you may want to contemplate how the Holy Sprit intervenes in our daily lives through the loving voices of those around us.
Some people need an action to help them process all that life is throwing at them. Capturing thoughts through words on paper is an effective way to discern God’s movement and voice in our lives. As this dad sees it, journaling is an effective tool to practice, especially to model, healthy habits to our children. You are never too young or too old to journal about your experiences, thoughts, struggles, joys or relationships.
Our society promotes diaries starting at a young age with girls and continues on for women far into adulthood. Maybe the Y chromosome that only men have prevents them from the urge to express their feelings. Ha! From experience I know the benefits are equally available to both sexes, at all ages, even if it comes more natural to one gender.
First, journaling is an art. Rembrandt and Picasso didn’t sit down as young students and create a masterpiece at first attempt. It took practice. In many cases, artists paint or draw for themselves more than for an audience, just as your journaling should be more for your spiritual benefit than to document facts.
Michelangelo looked at a block of marble as encasing an image that he wanted to free. Look at a journal simply as parchment that already has your soul imprinted on it in invisible ink and your writing utensil unleashes the language of your heart. Is this too deep? Perhaps it is if you have yet to journal, but for those of you who have practiced the craft, you know this metaphor to be true.
The more you listen to those around you (and those who have gone before you), and the more you contemplate God’s gentle voice in them, the more of God’s wisdom will be revealed. This wisdom will motivate your actions to be Christ’s hands and compassion on earth. This will be a tremendous testimony to your children as they grow into adults witnessing a humble parent who seeks truth.
(Jeff is an author, speaker and founding director of Pivotal Directions Inc., a servant leadership program for youth. Jeff belongs to All Saints Parish in Milwaukee and has three wonderful children who attend Lumen Christi Catholic School in Mequon/Thiensville. He seeks wisdom every day!)