I had four conversations in the last two days. They taught me something(s). They are all four teaching me something(s) — still.
I can put some of their wisdom into words, and the rest sits there in the shadows, just out of reach, just out of range for formulating anything from it.
I have office hours, and I have no office: less to decorate, one less place to hide. I have office hours in the Student Union, and oddly enough, I see far more students than when I had an office. You might need to sit down for this shocker: the students are already in the Student Union. Finding me is easier.
Yesterday a student from a Bible study from five to six years ago was back in town recruiting for his company. Tall, handsome, married to beautiful Jamie and successful. He charted a dark time that followed their marriage five years ago.
I was so humbled by his quiet, succinct, matter of fact (okay, he is an engineer) way of walking through the darkness and what he learned. He learned that he absolutely needs close friends who believe what he believes and trusts in Christ. He learned that he needed not just a place to give back to, but people to give back to — and if he gave back to youth that they kept him humble. I laughed out loud. Seventh graders are danged hard to impress. Try that Bill Gates.
He told me one other thing from the pit. He realized that he had settled for what a lot of people told him that the Bible said, and he had to learn to feed himself from scripture.
He had served on staff in a church, and loves God a lot. Much more than an emotion, his Love is his check book, time, and their investments.
We had to quit after two hours, and she was waiting, so she sat down to talk me through the last three weeks. She is an online student, carrying 30 hours (who wants to stay in college forever); taking the LSAT; and finding her mom has a relapse of cancer. She lost her dad to cancer in 2007. I watched as this woman made her apologies, asked what she needed to do, and figured her way through to getting it all done. I pity the fool who comes up to me after her to whine about anything. Yes, she is a believer and could not make it without Christ, but she was my second twenty-something in three hours to bowl me over.
I took a break during my night class to take a call from Zaq. He sold a car at a loss to a Cuban for whom the car began producing white smoke a few days later who is threatening Zaq and his wife with suits, and worse. I listened to Zaq tell me that he reached a pretty clever impasse with the hot head and he would not let the guy threaten him any more. I laughed at how little I had contributed to any of the three conversations.
Then this morning, I drove four students from Stillwater to Enid OK to talk over crowd funding with Mark Marshall for the Limitless project he and Dale began. One Pakistani, one Nepali, one Persian by way of Oklahoma and a red head. I listened to how oxygen privation is the cause of all cancer, how positive thinking will lengthen your life, how to achieve a count of (-1) if your are counting hawks in the wild, and other forms of flatus. I laughed out loud a couple of times. Did I mention they are all male?
And I thought on many days, I am most wise when I listen deepest and say the least. Many of us need someone to “bounce ideas off of” and hearing our ideas out loud we reform some, discard many, and realize that the best thoughts are true because they work, and work well for us. And some thoughts refuse final form, because they will simply grow as answers with us for all of our lives. Then I realized I am not all that wise — at all.
But I have these rare moments of humility when I can put down my assumptions and just listen and be amazed at the strength and wisdom in others. Then I usually have to prove to them how amazing they are, and having done that, I go on with my day.
It’s only funny because God said He would give Wisdom to anyone who asked.
Anyone can ask, right?