When I decided to do a weeklong fast from my computer, it was because I was overwhelmed. I had a lot of discernment to do and needed to clear my head. Now that my oldest child just turned five it’s time to start making big decisions about homeschooling vs. other education options, and I’m also trying to figure out how to write a book, continue blogging, keep up with all my daily emails, stay in touch with friends, keep the house clean and the bills paid, all while still putting my family first. I knew that I faced some tough choices, and that it would take a lot of thought and prayer to figure out what to do.
So as I began my week of silence, I prayed for one thing and one thing only: wisdom.
I was so focused on this that the last thing I did before shutting down my computer was to reply to a friend who’d emailed me a while back kindly asking what intentions of mine she might be able to pray for. I asked her to just pray this week that I receive wisdom. That’s it.
And all week, that’s what I searched for. As I scribbled notes about priorities and goals, went through our burnout management process with my husband, sought advice from trusted friends and family members, I kept my eyes and ears alert for this elusive wisdom. Would I even recognize it when I saw it? What type of information would it be? Would it come in the form of advice about a specific situation, or perhaps sage advice offering general life principles?
By the end of the week, I felt much better. Through a lot of thinking and talking and prayer I made good decisions and felt excited about the future, comfortable that I’d made the right choices. And yet I wasn’t sure if I ever did find wisdom. It felt like I’d made solid, rational, well-thought-out decisions, yes. But is that wisdom? I wasn’t sure. I felt vaguely disappointed that God didn’t exactly hit me over the head with the gift I’d asked for, at least not in a clearly recognizable way.
Then, on Sunday morning, the last day of my computer fast, the first reading at Mass was from (you guessed it) the book of Wisdom. I felt a little chill as it began:
I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
“Hey! Yes!” I thought. “Totally! I want wisdom too!…But how on earth do you find it?”
When our priest stood up to give his homily, he immediately began discussing that first reading. And as early as his introduction, I knew where I’d gone wrong. He didn’t even have to spell it out. He started talking about how the Old Testament prefigures the New Testament, and I shook my head and my own cluelessness. How could I have missed it?
The mistake I made was, ironically, one that I would have been less likely to make early on in my conversion, back when I was still studying Christianity and intensely focused on the simple truths of the faith. Now that I’m a few years in and the hurry and scurry of daily life has muddied the waters, however, I sometimes drift into thinking of the practice of my faith as something intricate, complicated and vague. These days it’s easier to overcomplicate everything and miss simple answers that are obvious even to my toddler children.
As our priest spoke, I sat back in the pew and shook my head in amazement. It’s so simple. Wisdom is nothing more or less than the Word incarnate. Jesus Christ. I hadn’t received what I’d wanted this week because I’d been looking in all the wrong places, asking the wrong question. As I searched high and low for lifeless data that would give me what I wanted, I wondered of wisdom, “How do I find it?” The real question, I now see, is “How do I find him?”