A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Handford
Long ago I sat in my dentist's chair as he probed my mouth. We'd always had interesting conversations. But he had one very bad habit. If I disagreed with him, and started burbling my opinion, he would fill my mouth with cotton or blobs of something so that I couldn't maintain my side of the argument. This happened the morning I asked him if he would trust Jesus as his Savior. A month later, after Walt had led him to the Lord, I asked him if he'd stuffed my mouth on purpose to stop my asking, and he said, "Yes."
Once he commented on the odd-shaped tors in my jaw. "It's a good thing you haven't needed a partial plate," he said. "Those tors would sure complicate fitting it."
"What causes them?"
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know."
When I could talk past his instruments I protested. "Why in the world would you use a word when you don't even know what it means?"
"I do know what it means," he said reasonably. "It means ‘I don't know.'"
So there's a word in the English language that I could use to confess I'm not the dispenser of all wisdom? Well, yes, there is. Idiopathic. Though it's actually a medical term, I need to learn to use it more often in my relationships with others.
We mothers are very accustomed to being right about everything when we talk with our children. No, I didn't say that right. I should say, " Mothers think they are always right when they're talking to their children." Actually, I've discovered, not only do my children know about things I know nothing about, like navigating the internet, they are often right about human relationships and matters of right and wrong, and I need to listen to them.
As a pastor's wife, I discovered that the people God sent to my husband and me to nurture spiritually often had a clearer insight into a certain passage of Scripture than I did. If I were really wise, I would say, "I don't know."
When I was the young office manager of my father's Christian book publishing company, I was managing many older, accomplished, smart employees, people who did their jobs well. I quickly learned that I needed to be teachable about many procedures. I didn't need to be the "know-it-all" solver of all the problems that crop up in a business. I wouldn't lose their respect when I said, "I don't know, and if you don't know, we'll find out together."
In Psalm 90:12, the prophet Moses prayed,
Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.
King Solomon said, in Proverbs 23:23:
Get the truth and don't ever sell it;
also get wisdom, discipline, and discernment.
I have learned I especially need to say to my Father/God, when I'm trying to figure out why I've missed the mark in my relationship with Him, "I don't know why that happened, dear Lord. I'm listening to what You want me to hear, and then I'll obey You as fast as I can."