by Richard L. Burguet •
I have figured something out about myself. I can always spot a fool, unless he is hiding in me! Maybe I have learned this because I have given my wife, my parents, my children, my co-workers and far too many others; good opportunities to point out to me my lack of wisdom, especially when it comes to relationships. Having recently had my foolishness pointed out to me, I was thinking I needed to learn something about “wisdom”. Now, I could have gone to the local bookstore, and picked up any number of books or magazines that offer relationship wisdom, but I decided to look at what the “Wisdom Literature” reference book of the Bible said instead. I found some pretty uncomfortable shoes to put on as I shopped around in the book of Proverbs about what foolishness looks like.
Just for brevity sake, here are five of those “shoes” that made me uncomfortable. I am not going to expand on them, because they speak for themselves. Proverbs 12:16 says that “a fool is easily upset.” A little later on Proverbs reminds me that “a fool is fiercely independent” (Pv. 28:26), and that “a fool believes everything he reads” (Pv. 14:15). The eighteenth chapter says that “a fool starts fights” (Pv. 18:6) and that “he loves to talk, but hates to listen.” (Pv. 18:2). The only one that didn’t nail me to the floor personally was from Proverbs 15:20 that says that “a fool hates his mama.” Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty!
Thinking about uncomfortable shoes, one of my daughters was on a ballet scholarship in high school and college. Since she danced for hours every day, five days a week, we were buying new pointe shoes for her monthly. That is because after so many hours of dancing on pointe, the shoes die. (At least that is what her mother and she kept telling me?) We bought oodles of shoes for dance. Relational wisdom is sort of like a pointe shoe, actually. Relationships will suffer and even die if not cared for, of if they are abused. We need to look for ways to constantly renew them, and the way to do that, in my thinking, is by listening from the heart, and honestly receiving what others may point out to us.
So, to distill the wisdom of Proverbs for myself, and especially how I can be more wise in my relationships I think it can be boiled down to a new resolve to communicate and work through issues with others. I fear that those for whom I am tasked to write all have a common malady. I am not going to blame our issues with relational wisdom on what I used to call “testosterone poisoning”, because I have been watching TV and apparently lots of us have “Low-T”. I think it is a systemic problem that is rooted in our hearts, and Proverbs hit that issue directly when it reminds readers that “a fool makes light of sin” (Pv. 10:23).
This issue of the heart, that tells men to hold things in and not make waves, and then as a consequence we allow things to build up, start to fester, and finally we pop like a pimple; has a deep root in who we actually are. We do this not just with relationships, but we do this is with work issues, personal issues, friendships, the list goes on and on. We need to be brutally honest about it. Our failures in relationships stem from a heart that is self-centered, and although we may not acknowledge our sin, it is apparent to others.
I think it is an interesting reality that God made most of us with two ears and one mouth. That means that we need to learn to listen twice as much as we talk. Think about how that might change your relationships at home or in the work place. No, I am not suggesting that you just “clam up”, but simply that we listen more! Maybe when someone risks pointing out your relational foolishness to you, you could actually give more consideration to the issue they have brought to light. I am thinking that it may take me a while to break in those new shoes. Before too terribly long they will be as comfortable as my favorite pair of hunting boots. I am going to work on being honest, and opening up with those who love and trust me, and maybe grow my relational wisdom this year.
By the way, I was really glad that I didn’t totally strike-out with the six descriptions of a fool from Proverbs, I really do love my mama. This is a new year, and I honestly believe that as long as we have breath we can grow and mature, and actually become more wise. Even in that most mysterious and convoluted area of relationships.
Published in the January 2014 issue of Healthy Living Magazine