by Nan Corbitt Allen
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6 NIV
At the end of almost every school year my sons would bring home a sack full of miscellaneous work created throughout the year. I don’t know why the teachers sent these treasures home on the last day instead of during the year, but most of the time they did.
The end of the year that our youngest finished 5th grade, he brought home the usual paper bag containing drawings and papers that he’d done in the past nine months. I took each one out and marveled at my boy’s achievements. He’s smart. He’s creative. He’s a good boy.
Down at the bottom of the sack was a little booklet with a yellow cover and a hand-drawn title.
5th Grade Words of Wisdom.
Okay. Before I trashed it with the myriad of other papers, I sat for a moment and read a few of the entries. I was expecting things like historical facts, or geographical discoveries, or even new vocabulary words that the kids had discovered. I was wrong. It seemed as though the teacher had asked her students for insights rather than facts and figures.
I saved the book and tossed much of the rest. Recently, I rediscovered that booklet while cleaning out a filing cabinet. Here are a few words of wisdom I gleaned:
“I’ve learned that whenever we have to line up tallest to shortest, I’ll always be last.” I can relate.
- “I learned that the older you get the more clothes you get for Christmas.”
- “I learned that cats don’t always land on all fours.” You’ve gotta try that to discover this!
- “I learned to never roller blade backwards down a hill.” Again, experience tends to teach.
- “I learned that if you stick a fork in a light socket you will get a new hairdo.”
- “I learned that the more you mess with your hair the worse it looks”. Not a truer word…
- “I learned that short jackets only keep you warm from your waist to your neck.”
There were others that were funny or clever or just down right profound. Like these:
- “God will answer prayer when He thinks it is time.” How can a 5th grader know that unless he’s been speaking to the Almighty about something he needs?
- “You don’t always get what you want, but you need to be thankful for what you have.”
- “If you look a person in the eyes while you’re talking to them, they will trust you better”
- “God is always watching.”
The dictionary says that wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. It presumes that experience and knowledge will lead to good judgment. It’s a choice, I guess, to allow failures to teach us, disappointments to mold us, and successes to humble us.
But we should never let any one of our negative experiences define us.
Author William Arthur Ward put it this way: “We can choose to throw stones, to stumble on them, to climb over them, or to build with them.”
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” James 1:5 (NKJV).
Whenever I feel guilty asking God over and over what to do in certain situations, I remember that verse. I realize that God wants me to ask Him. Perhaps He even smiles when I ask, because He knows I trust His judgment and will follow His leading.
Not a moment is wasted when we look to Him to teach us through it. He can use both our positive and negative experiences to grow and mature us. In His wisdom, we can become wise.
About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.
Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.
Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Join the conversation: What is one piece of wisdom that you have gotten through experience?