Listen, if I didn’t have so much of this life all wrong… I would have gotten it right by now. I talk a whole bunch but I really only know a few things so I ain’t saying to follow along verbatim here. I’ll just tell you the things I tell myself, the things I know. You can see what sticks. – Buddy Wakefield, “The Information Man”
I spend a lot of time being wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time with my nose in books and researching things that seem to catch my eye and finding out that my preconceived notions about a topic were incorrect. The customers I talk to on the phone at my job spend a lot of time telling me I’m wrong or I will look into a problem and find out that what I told the person was incorrect. It is then up to me to swallow my pride and let my customer know that I was wrong. It’s not easy to do but it’s a lot easier because I don’t have to do it face to face. I purposely stay quiet out of what I call humility during conversations and classroom discussions sometimes but I’m not really humble, I just don’t want to be wrong. I think everyone has, to a greater or lesser extent, an innate fear of being wrong. It’s just part of being broken and prideful that we, as the center of the universe, cannot be wrong.
The thing I’ve discovered about being wrong a lot of the time is that I only know a few things. The things that I know are things that I can always be certain of and maintain my confidence that at least in the things I know I can’t be told that I’m wrong. I was thinking about this today after I shook the sleep out of my eyes at the crack of noon today after staying up too late watching a movie. I can’t tell you how I got down this road of thought because it’s just more proof that I’m wrong a lot of the time but I decided to entertain the thought process that followed. I was able to come up with three things that I know with great certainty, without a doubt, 100% foolproof. Just do me a favor and don’t try and prove me wrong with these three things. They’re all I’ve got.
The first has a lot to do with my personality and talents. First of all, I’m really good at being overly analytical. I will scrutinize something down to its most basic molecules if I have to. I will understand what I am analyzing and I will make sense of it even if it drives me to the brink of insanity. I’m pretty sure this is why I’m single but we won’t go into great detail about that. Second, I am really good at reading people and sometimes even empathic. I can’t tell you how many times this particular portion of my gifting has decided to rear its head. I can’t really control it, per se, but I can decipher the signals it sends to my brain however I sense things. I have been able to tell when people are depressed, anxious, or just trying to lie to me. It’s just been something I’ve always been able to do. It’s like that scene in Good Will Hunting when Skylar (Minnie Driver) asks Will (Matt Damon) how he figures things out in minutes that takes her hours to comprehend. He goes into this long explanation that used Beethoven and Mozart’s understanding of the piano about how they could just play and when it came to the understanding the difficulties produced by Ivy League academia he says, “When it came to stuff like that, I could just play”. That’s the best I can describe it: I can just play.
Now when you combine analytical abilities with my interpersonal skills and severe empathy and you get a man who has easily been able to discern what a person is like, things they’ve done or something as weird as how many siblings they have and what gender those siblings are. It’s weird, really, really weird to me sometimes when things like that come to me so easily especially when, just by looking at one of my friends, I was able to tell that she had been a part of a mutual friend’s infidelity. It is stuff like that I really don’t want to know.
What’s really frustrating is that there are times and there are people when these abilities carry absolutely no weight. It’s like someone just emptied my head or flipped off some kind of switch. Some people are just really hard to read. I would like to think that through my abilities I have gained some sort of insight into the inner workings of the human psyche and, to some degree, it has. I know a lot more about people than they realize a lot of the time. But then I will see things that make absolutely no logical sense and it becomes unbearably frustrating.
This leads me to the first thing that I can tell you that I know without a doubt: There are some things I will never understand. I will never understand why people who had a horrible go around when they dated will break up and then get back together. I will never understand why at the age of 25 I was diagnosed with a heart condition that’s typical in people in their 50’s. I don’t understand why people hate, why people can’t be honest and why it took me so long to figure this out. Some things just will not make any sense. But at least I know it and someday, if you don’t, you might understand this particular truth.
Which provides absolutely no segue in to my next paragraph so I’ll just bumble into it. I’m not a pro at this, I just speak what’s on my mind and heart and hope it makes sense. I’ve always been that way, I guess. I’ve been writing prose and poetry since 7th grade. That was when the ability to communicate via paper and pencil was really unlocked. I had the most fantastic English teacher in Miss Fischer, a woman whom half the guys in the class had a crush on. I came to know her as more of a friend because she treated me like a human instead of the freak that everyone thought I was. I was a loner back then and writing was kind of my gateway out of that mindset. Just as I’m doing now, I would write down how I was feeling and eventually I found someone influences that really altered and gave me a stronger voice. Self-expression is necessary, I think, for everyone. It manifests itself in many ways but it’s always there.
I’m still a loner now and I still write as is evident by the 1,200 words I’ve spewed forth thus far. And I still retreat to a form of writing to make sense of things in life. I’m really good at feeling alone in a room full of friends still. It just goes to show you that some things never change. And that is the second thing that I know. I know that no matter what happens in your life, my life and everyone else’s life there are some things that will never change. In a world where “the only thing that stays the same is change,” there are actually a few things that are not blanketed by that statement. Autumn will always be marked by the colors changing of the leaves, the tides will always be affected by the moon and even though their positions may apparently alter slightly, the stars will always shine in the sky when the sun sets.
There is something else that never changes. You know, as much of a heathen as I have been through the span of my life I have always believed in God. He may not have looked or acted like the God that I’ve studied and believe in now but he has always been there. In theological terms, people like to say that God is immutable, that is, he is not changing or able to be changed. This is something I know about God. It’s hard to comprehend but it is indeed the truth.
My friend Ben says he’s wrong 20% of the time but that’s only because the other 80% of the time he’s talking about Jesus. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe Jesus came down in the form of a human and was tempted like we are tempted every day. And I think even worse because Satan himself really went after him first in the wilderness and then through Judas Iscariot who turned Jesus over to the authorities to ultimately be crucified. In theological terms, Jesus’ nature can be defined by the hypostatic union, that Jesus is fully man and fully God. Because of the former it was written in the letter to the Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is that high priest.
With all of this in mind, I think there’s really only one more thing I can say I truly know. While I know that some things I will never understand and there are some things that will never change, I think I’ve discovered something that is ultimately far more important. I know that God understands and he never changes. That’s something, above all else, that I can cling to and tell people I know. All other issues are unimportant by themselves. When you add them up, however, and lay them like bricks in front of you the end result, because what I’m telling you is the truth, the road you build will lead you to the God I speak of. I know that it’s narrow and there are few that will find it. If it’s truth you seek, if it’s understanding you desire, then there is a God who knows you more intimately than any person ever could because he knew you before you were formed in the womb and before you were born he called you out and he wants you to know him.