Ecclesiastes 7:16 “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?”
Last weekend my husband surprised me with a trip to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia for our 21st wedding anniversary. We are both history lovers, and neither of us had visited this area before. We were able to stay in a beautiful old home, made into an Air BnB. Besides the historical aspect, the Appalachian Trail goes through this town, and I was excited to say that I had walked a little part of that famous trail.
We were taking an early morning hike, and I started getting a craving for a cup of coffee. Girls, when that thought hits you, well, it’s all over until you have the coffee in your hand. Here’s a funny thing that happened. We were walking through this old town, filled with old homes and buildings that have been refurbished to look like they did in the 1700s. The street is actually still brick in some places. It’s a beautiful spot to visit. As we’re walking down the trail into town, I looked up and saw a sign that says: Express Coffee. Yay! Exactly what I needed! I pointed to the sign and said to my husband, “Coffee!” He looked at the sign and said, “Great! Let’s go.” We walked up to the door, opened it, and walked in. But we weren’t in a coffee shop. In fact, it seemed that we were in the back of a museum, with stickers on the floor that pointed that this door was for going out, not for coming in. Confused, we walked out. “What’s that all about?” I asked. “I have no idea. I guess we better look for coffee somewhere else,” he replied. As we walked away, I turned around to glance back at the sign above the door-
I have thought about this instance so many times over the last several days! How could we both have been sure what we saw, and we both were completely wrong? It’s incredible.It didn’t say “Coffee” after all! In my desire for coffee, I read the sign wrong. The funny part is, when I said “Coffee” out loud as I was pointing to the sign, my husband admits that he also saw the sign as saying “coffee.” The power of suggestion!
But actually, it’s not. What we feel strongly and affirm with our words quickly becomes “truth” to us. If we repeat the same thought over and over, it is more and more affirmed as truth in our minds. Teachers and coaches know that repetition and practice make facts or actions cemented in the brain permanently. We can believe something so deeply, that we think our belief MUST be truth. It is when we speak to or read writings from someone with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MINDSET, that we are shocked that not everyone sees “truth” as clearly (wink, wink) as we can!
Harpers Ferry, WV sits just across the river from 2 separate states- Maryland and Virginia. In the 1860s, those 2 states had VASTLY different views about the Civil War. Maryland was a Union state, and Virginia was a Confederate state. The God-fearing, upright, loving citizens of each state felt very strongly that their view was right, and those just across the Potomac were WRONG! This is an example of how our opinions and feelings, as strong and passionate as they are, are not equal to truth itself. The Bible is the only source of absolute truth.
Have you ever been in an argument (let’s call it a lively debate) with someone, and you feel completely misunderstood? It’s as if the moment your words leave your mouth, they are magically translated into some unknown language before the other person heard them? I have felt like that. It is almost an incredulous feeling that another human can hear the same English words and understand them so differently then how you intended.
We all know that men and women see life from very different angles. (Okay, that’s an understatement!) I’ve learned in the last few years that teenage guys and their mothers also speak different languages.J We will not change others to think like we think by adding more and more and more words; I will personally testify that I’ve tried it many times without success! Conservatives and liberals, people from different cultural or religious backgrounds, men and women, teens and parents,, and many other groups will NOT see things the same. So, what do we do?
No human being has a corner on truth. God reserves that for Himself. If we live our entire lives striving to be right, pushing our opinions and views on everyone, always SURE THAT WE ARE IN THE RIGHT, we will lose friends, relationships, jobs, and mostly- influence. We must accept that God created us all different and put us in different families in different places. Deep breath….stop the striving, the instructing, the brow-beating. We don’t have to be right. We aren’t always right. We don’t have to be. There is no prize for being right the most.
Can we realize and accept that, no matter how obvious something is to us (like a sign that says COFFEE), we may be wrong. (Ouch, I have a hard time admitting that!) No matter how many times we heard something said in our life, someone else may have a completely different, and just as passionate a view. Let people around you have their own voice, their own thoughts.
Of course, the Bible is the source of truth. God IS truth. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. There is only one true God, Jehovah. We are commanded to tell the whole world about the Good News of the Gospel. Salvation through Christ is not an opinion, but the truth that needs to be told! Yet, even in this truth, we need not create enemies through our forceful, arrogant, or demeaning manor. We are messengers of the precious message of God’s love for man. This truth is to be shared in a humble, loving, prayerful way with those in our lives.
The Holy Spirit of God is the One Who speaks truth the heart of a man or women, boy or girl. He is the most powerful instrument of change in the world. He can change a heart, an opinion, a point of view, a life, a direction, a world! We are most influential as we stand aside and allow the Holy Spirit to convince God to bring a person to truth. He is patient. He is love. He is kind. He knows the way to change a person. Let’s work with Him, not against Him.
I say it again, though it’s hard to believe- I am not always right (I hope my husband doesn’t read this!) Even when I feel SO strongly, and things seem so obvious and clear, I only need to remember that I have been mistaken before. (COFFEE-OFFICE) Join me, Friends, as we strive to make this world a better place, not through getting everyone to “see it” like us, but by humility and the Holy Ghost working His will in our hearts and in those we love. All the while- mouth shut, heart open, knees bent, and prayers going up.