Today, I begin a walk through the book of Proverbs. Proverbs was a book of everyday wisdom that parents, usually fathers to sons in the original context, used to prepare their children to be functioning members of their communities. In so many ways, Proverbs provides wisdom we can sink our teeth into even if we are not Christians. That is why I love it so much.
The purpose of this series of posts is to offer my personal reflections on these pearls and how they have (or have not) had an impact on my life. My greatest hope is that my sons can one day look back on this series and find something inspiring and useful while navigating the struggles that they will inevitably face.
Proverbs 1:7-9 (The VOICE Translation)
Let us begin. The worship of the Eternal One, the one True God, is the first step toward knowledge.
Fools, however, do not fear God and cannot stand wisdom or guidance.
So, my son, pay attention to your father’s guidance,
and do not ignore what your mother taught you—
Wear their wisdom as a badge of honor and maturity,
as fine jewelry around your neck.
I know that this passage assumes that moms and dads are going to offer positive guidance, that they aren’t going to go off the rails and teach their children to snort lines of cocaine or something. Sadly, this isn’t the case. My own experience screams out against this thinking.
The majority of the wisdom I gained from my parents was of the “I’ll show you what not to do” variety. Even though that kind of wisdom sucks to obtain, I think it tends to stick with me in ways that positive reinforcement does not. Maybe that is just me. Maybe I’m broken that way.
I hope my sons are not similarly afflicted. Probably the most noticeable impact my upbringing had on my current parenting is how hard I try not to be my parents. With the exception of one big area (any generosity I have I learned from my step-dad), I have taken great care to try not to teach my boys what I have learned.
It is hard and I fail a lot. But I try…and maybe that is the wisdom my boys will glean from me:
Try to be better even if you fail a lot. Learn something from every failure so that one day you can look back and know it was worth all the pain. Love wisdom enough to know that you know very little in the grand scheme of things. That way you will always be open to being wrong and open to change in the places that need changing.