For over six months now I've been working my way through Proverbs on a daily basis reading the chapter corresponding to the day of the month. An unexpected consequence was the sorrow that inevitably accompanied such an endeavor to which I was naively indifferent. The man who sits in the life raft in the midst of the ocean crying “water! water! everywhere! and not a drop to drink!” knows the peril of learning a proverb. For in the revelation of wisdom there is the stark contrast between what ought to be, and what is in my heart. Shock sets in, inevitably followed by despair unless one of two things is accomplished first.
There are those who will invariably have not a little success through the efforts of their own will. These self assured souls might persist steadfastly for years and years, if not a lifetime, in the work of becoming a more wise person. And then there are those who will see something different in the proverb which escapes the natural man. The heart of the man is revealed in proverbs; that is, the heart of a humble man looking into the mind of God. I have looked into the mind of God and it is a fearful thing. And I have been humbled.
For this reason I revisit my frustration with Haiti and those who love sinners more than brothers and sisters. While my frustration has not subsided, rather it is more hot than ever, I see the rashness of my words and understand now that fools will not hear wisdom; lovers of the world will not recognize correction. My words are wasted if I intend to change the heart of one who loves the world more than they love God within their brother. Yet, sadder than this is that I have left myself open to criticism by unnecessarily including harsh language. My speech has not been seasoned with grace and love and patience. I regret this.
And so, after respite I see that energy spent in frustration at fools is energy wasted. After repose I understand that regardless of the rightness or wrongness of an invocation or exhortation – including harsh words risks undermining the efficacy of the encouragement by allowing smaller minds to be diverted into criticism instead of listening. Proverbs has humbled me yet again. I have seen wisdom and played the fool. Shame on me.