Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This I Believe Essay

So for book group this month we read "This I Believe". It's a collection of short essays from different people (both famous and common man) that discuss a personal belief that they are the most certain about.  They range from very general philosophies like the meaning of life, to very contained philosophies like be nice to the pizza delivery guy.  It is based on the NPR series of the same name that was hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the 1950's.

As part of book group, the person hosting challenged us to write our own essays and since it's been ages since I did any kind of recreational writing I decided to give it a go.  And since it's been ages since I posted on this blog I decided to post it here! The essay is not supposed to sum up your entire world philosphy in one page, but instead focus on one aspect of life that you really believe to be true. Let me know what you think.  I had so much fun hearing others essays last night...I'd love to hear what you believe too!

I believe there are a lot of things I don’t know.  There are way more things that I don’t know than things that I do know.  I don’t say that to sound ominous or negative in any way.  But I think sometimes it’s hard to admit that there are a lot of things we don’t know, or don’t do well, or don’t understand…so I’m just coming out and saying it at the beginning of this essay… I don’t know a lot of things.

When looked at it in the wrong light this truth can be damaging, depressing, and halt us in our progression.  We can’t know it all so why even try.  But, given a positive place to grow, our admission that we don’t know very much can actually help us change and bloom.

Believing that we don’t know everything can help us be curious and hopeful.  It gives us the desire to pursue knowledge.  It gives us the ability to change our thoughts and our actions.  It helps us listen to other people. It makes us want to add new things to the world, say new things, and participate in life.  It stops us from getting up on soapboxes and saying things we will have to take back.  It keeps us asking "why" instead of just "what".  

Believing that we don’t know everything helps us be less judgmental.  We can understand that there is a lot going on with others that we don’t see. There are many in the world who think they can tell who is happy just by what they write on Facebook.  There are many in the world who think they know who is healthy based on what jean size they wear. There are many in the world who think they can tell if a person is a hard worker based on the size of their paycheck.  When we recognize that there is a lot we don’t know, we can see beyond what people say and focus on what people do.  We can see past fake smiles and light pleasantries and really get to know the people around us.  We can empathize with others worries and trials. We can celebrate their triumphs and be genuinely happy for others. We can have more compassion for our fellow man.

Believing that we don’t know everything helps us be more forgiving.  We realize that often the things people do and say have little to do with us at all.  We can see past people’s cruelty and see their hurt.  We can see past their pessimism and see the loneliness.  We can see past a carelessly made comment and see that people are trying. We can give people the benefit of the doubt.  We can take on less of what isn’t really meant for us.  We can see people as whole people.  Not just one dimensional people who maybe forgot our birthday, broke a promise or said something without thinking.  And we can forgive because we know that they too, don’t know everything. We can forgive unwanted weight loss, parenting, and organizational advice. So someone says weight loss is as simple as “calories in, calories out”, they don’t know everything.  So someone thinks if I hadn’t had an epidural my daughter wouldn’t have learning disorders, they don’t know everything. So that person thinks that since I’m smiling at church I don’t understand what it’s like to be depressed, they don’t know everything. When we realize that none of us know everything, and we stop demanding people to be perfect, it’s easier to forgive because we have less to forgive.

Understanding that we don’t know everything can bring us peace.  It leads us to the further realization that we don’t have to know everything. So much of life is spent trying to be in the know. As I get older I realize more and more that there are a lot of things I don’t want to know and don’t need to know.  I don’t need to know the latest gossip.  I don’t need to know what goes on in the mind of a serial killer.  I don’t need to know about every terrible thing that happens in the world.  Or why my neighbors fight so much, or why people cheat on their spouses, or why someone makes different choices than me.  I can help and serve and love without knowing all of these answers.   I’m not suggesting that we put our heads in the sand, just that we don’t get them caught in a media vice.  

When we admit that we don’t know everything it allows us to focus on the few things that we do know.  It helps us to keep them more sacred and value them more.  It allows for more clarity. It allows for advancement.  It’s because of the not knowing that we take our first steps. 

But more important than my belief that I don’t know everything, is my belief that there is someone who knows everything.  And He loves me and He’s okay that I don’t know everything. He knows all the things that I don’t know and can’t know and choose not to know. He knows why some people say mean things. He knows why people fall in love. He knows why women lose babies. He knows why people can forgive me so many times even when I make such stupid mistakes. He knows why so many people feel unloved. He knows why my daughter has cerebral palsy. He knows why friends move. He knows why people lose jobs when they don’t deserve it. He knows about all the good in the world. He knows why people get sick. He knows why people are unkind to others who are different. He knows why people build walls. He knows why sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed, He knows why ultimately I do anyway.  And someday we’ll have a long talk and he’ll explain it all to me and  I’ll be happy that I didn’t know it all before. Because it’s the not knowing that keeps me walking. It’s the not knowing that keeps me open.  It’s in the not knowing that living occurs.

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