Thursday, February 26, 2009

Human Intelligence

I am currently taking two writing classes. They run for 8 weeks. In total, aside from the instructors, there are 10 adult students, whose work I get to enjoy on a weekly basis.

Each instructor gives writing prompts and assigns homework. Since these are not “graded” sessions, no one requires that you actually DO anything, but it would be foolish, in my opinion, to take a class and then not engage in the learning process.

In my memory, I’ve always been ready with an opinion about most subjects. If someone were to ask me a question, I always answered it. Even when they didn’t ask, I would often offer. If it was an informational query (ie. how to do something or why something is what it is) and I didn’t know, I found it incredibly frustrating to say those three simple words: “I don’t know.”

This brought a number of conflicts in my childhood, but I was always so confident, I felt I could persuade my peers to agree with me. In a large family, we had arguments all the time. As the youngest child and only girl, I didn’t often win but the chutzpah I developed in that setting had me challenging almost anyone when I disagreed with their point of view.

Through the years, maturity and life experience has worn down that na├»ve supposition of precocity. Last week when our assignment was to write a “How To” article, including steps in the process, reasons why it was personally significant and how the reader might benefit if they engaged in the same activity, I was stumped. I had nothing to share.

Or so I thought.

In looking back now, I sense it has more to do with my attitude about life. The glass is half empty. I’m totally drained and in emotional recovery, but from what am I recovering and to what am I being restored?

Recovery from Intelligence

The truth. We have it. We’re obligated to share it or reinforce it for you. This particular self-perception was a dubious gift from my family of origin. We had a highly developed ability to learn facts and skills and apply them. They didn’t say it in those words, but judge for yourself from the list of my siblings’ chosen careers:

Teacher/principal, preacher, Marine, missionary, television producer, air traffic control supervisor, writer.

And then there was The Good Son. Seriously. I don’t say that with jealousy or sarcasm. One brother lived a life of simple obedience to God’s voice. He’s not perfect, he’s not a monk, but he was the one I most respected. Until he got married and his wife educated me about his humanity.

This is all crap. Kaka. The whole jumbled mess of my family defies analysis, so I’ll leave that to the professionals who are providing individual therapy for several of us.

Pardon me while I go make lunch for my son and start his vehicle to warm it up in minus 30 temps outside.

And we’re back.

The ham on my egg/cheese/toast sandwich tastes so good it likely isn’t allowed on my current nutritional intake. I keep saying “I’m just trying to get healthy” (remember the “recovery” line above?) but honest to goodness, it’s a medically supervised weight loss program (read: diet). I’m great with losing weight. I’ve done it before. I can work on a project and succeed because that’s what I do. But then I go back to the same habits that got me unhealthy and overweight in the first place. This time the healthy change has to be transformation. Not recovery.

New habits. New attitude. New life.

Nice try. Read Romans 6-7. It’s pretty much a summary of my life. What I want to do, I don't do; what I don't want to do, I do.

There is no magic formula. No silver bullet. My aim for a new life is all very noble. All well and good. I could give a speech about it (in fact, I have), I could write devotionals about it, I could blog about it. For some, that’s all they think about, write about, talk about. But isn’t that still just another symptom of the same dysfunction?

Thinking about food. Thinking too much about my body’s appearance. Being overly concerned with receiving affirmation and love from others. To quote a certain actress "You like me, you really, really like me."

There is hope. Read Romans 8.

if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently

In “My Utmost for His Highest” February 7 entry, Oswald Chambers said, “Lust says ‘I must have it at once.’ Spiritual lust causes me to demand an answer from God instead of seeking God who gives the answer.”

When we hope, we wait patiently. We work at what is in front of us. We don’t demand immediate transformation. We don’t depend on the affirmation of others. We participate actively in choosing to do, eat, say, think what is good, better, best. And we wait.

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