Seeking wisdom

October 13, 2009 | 30 comments

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?”


  1. Laura

    So what does this mean??? Did you rethink your answers??? Did you change your priorities??? Don't leave us hanging!! (Ah yes, I know, the sign of a good writer!)
    God Bless.

  2. Mary O'Hannigan

    It's official~I'm in love with you =0) And if you lived here we'd be great friends and have tea or coffee frequently.

    As it is, I've immensely enjoyed your blog and thank you for sharing your wisdom. Yours is quite a story!

    Really truly, I'm a happily married(20 years!), cradle Catholic, mom-of-four(ages 7-16) who serves as a teacher assistant at our most magnificent Catholic school here in Granger, IN. Thank you for sharing your life through this blog. If you're ever in Notre Dame country, give a holler. And we could go to Starbucks~my treat =0)

  3. Anonymous

    I love the book of Wisdom, probably my favorite book after the Psalms. So immediately upon reading your post today, I thought of this verse:

    Wisdom 8:21

    But I perceived that I would not possess wisdom unless God gave her to me…

  4. Susan L

    This makes a lot of sense. Out of all the blogs that I read…this blog seems to speak to me the most. Most of the time I never say anything. I just lurk but I hold these precious gems close to my heart.

    Thank you for blogging.

  5. Tami

    Hmmm, if I'm not mistaken, wisdom, like in the passage you quoted, is always referred to in the feminine. One of the titles of the Blessed Virgin is "Seat of Wisdom". I wonder if perhaps ~she~ is what you're looking for, especially given that the topics you're discerning all rotate around your vocation as a woman. Just my .02. 🙂

    I enjoy your blog immensely. There's always so much to ponder, here. (Scorpions excluded, of course! LOL)

  6. Rachelle, Mike, and David

    Couldn't have been said any better.

  7. Anne@Rosydreamer


  8. Anonymous


  9. Flexo

    Wisdom is nothing more or less than the Word incarnate. Jesus Christ. . . . I wondered of wisdom, "How do I find it?" The real question, I now see, is "How do I find him?"


    But don't stop at the Redeemer. Take the next step — the Sanctifier (see also, Gospel of John, ch. 14-17).

  10. Flexo

    Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

    V. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
    R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

    Let us pray: O God, who did instruct the hearts of the faithful, by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.


  11. Amy

    Jennifer, thank you for your honesty in writing this post. This was/is something I really needed to hear right now.

    I am struggling myself right now with being overwhelmed and behind in everything. I too have been looking for solutions. I have your burned-out plan sitting on my computer waiting for a moment when I can give it the proper attention.

    Just last night I was singing a hymn to clear my head as I fell asleep and realized that I've been missing Him. I know I don't have to tangibly 'feel' Him all the time but the connection (on my part) is weak. Thank you for the good reminder!

  12. dottie

    Dear Jennifer – You have indeed found wisdom.

  13. Anonymous

    Yes, yes, yes!

  14. Mary

    Dear jennifer,
    Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to share it with us. You challenge me to think on a deeper level about my priorities in life. I am struggling with contentment and your burnout plan has actually helped.
    Keep writing my friend. You have a gift.

  15. That Married Couple

    Thanks for sharing! I was also seeking wisdom just this week. And the only thing I had at the end of the week was an overwhelming feeling that I needed to spend more time with God in prayer. This post just reaffirms that!

    Next week there is an opportunity in my church to attend adoration. I've never been, but thanks to your posts on it I've been contemplating it. Now it looks like I'll have to go!

  16. Smoochagator

    Well, it sounds like God did indeed use your net-fast to speak to you – YAY! I hope and pray that you continue to hear his voice and seek his face.

  17. Sibyl

    I would like to offer this article from Focus on the Family president's blog for you young mothers.

    Our children, in their early years, draw their sense of being, well-being, core identity and self-regard from their mother's and father's, but primarily their mother's face and manner of attitude and behavior toward them. Cell phones, computers, etc. detach mothers from their infants primary source of being during these crucial years…and later on as well…and to grandparents as well.

    Perhaps the Lord is speaking to all of us through Jennifer.

  18. 'Becca

    I'm with Tami: There may be something to this gender thing; at least it's worth pondering and worth seeking Wisdom HERself rather than concluding that all you need is more Jesus. There are three parts to the Trinity, and it may be, as Flexo says, that you need to shift your focus to that third part. I mean, look at this:

    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?"

    The real question is, "How do I find HER?" Not it. Her. Not lifeless. The Spirit of Truth that lives in you.

    I don't think the gender is meant to be taken literally–the Trinity is really beyond such narrow concepts–but the fact that Wisdom is called by feminine pronouns may well be a clue that she is another "face" of God that you need to seek.

    I've recently been seeking better knowledge of Wisdom and/or the Holy Spirit, including trying to discern if they are the same or different. I am an Episcopalian, and I feel that the Holy Spirit is strangely neglected in our liturgy, like some tagalong little sibling who gets only brief acknowledgement. I've been trying to learn more, but so far I have no really good resources to recommend. I do want to mention that there is more about Wisdom in the first chapter of Proverbs.

  19. karen

    Although I am a cradle Catholic, I most of the time feel like I am just beginning. I really enjoy your blog and it makes me think and pray. I hope you will continue to blog even if you homeschool (although I don't know how anyone could manage it; I know many do) and please let us know if the decisions you made last week remain the same or change since your "revelation".

  20. Kelly Langner Sauer

    Oh yes… yes… It is all about Jesus; how often we get caught up in our needs and forget Him… Thank you.

  21. Monica

    Good point, Tami. Without fail, we will find Jesus through Mary.

    Jennifer, may the Queen of the most Holy Rosary guide you straight into the loving arms of Jesus.

    Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us all!

  22. Dani

    I think that sometimes we are so busy trying to "be" Catholic that we forget that we "are" Catholic.

    What I mean is that when you are so busy focussing on trying to [b]be[/b] a Catholic, a mom, a wife, a writer…that you can easily forget that you already [b]are[b/] a Catholic, mom, wife and writer.

    "Being" something implies that there has to be some sort of effort applied or some conscience decision that is made to accept your status.

    However when you are in the state of "are" something, that means it's as natural as breating. It means that the control is given up to a higher force and you just go with it and take it in.

    All I know for sure is that I was more of an "are" Catholic during my RCIA journey and period of Mystagogy. I just accepted what was taught…made connections.. and every homily spoke to me.

    Almost 6 months later and I feel like I am slipping into a "be" catholic, as if I should act a certain way or think a certain way and not just blindly accept what the gospel is telling me.

    When reading your blog, I see the moments when I think you are a "be" Catholic. This post is definately an "are" Catholic moment.

  23. Flexo

    Re: on the use of "He" in referring to the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete/Spirit of Wisdom)

    There are a couple of reasons for this —

    (1) Because Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as "He"
    (actually, we really don't need to go any further than this)

    (2) Because Jesus is a "he" and He referred to the first person of the Trinity as "Father" and "He," and the Trinity is One God, not a mixture of God and goddess(es)

    (3) Because, although God is neither male nor female, scripture describes the relationship between God and mankind (specifically, Israel) as a marital relationship, with God being the husband/father and mankind being the wife/mother

    (4) Likewise, Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride, and the Holy Spirit (He) fills the Church (She) in a manner that is both unitive and fruitful, such that She may give birth to children of God

    (5) Consistent with (3) and (4) above, Mary (she) conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit (He)

  24. Sibyl

    A bit more to reinforce what I said earlier:

    Bonding and secure maternal attachment are important as the foundation for successive stages of child development…identity, .

    For His sake, and your child's, turn off cell phones, TV, noises and give as complete attention as possible to your sweet infant while nursing and give him/her loving eye contact, cooing, tender loving sounds…facial expression shapes the baby's psyche. Encourage other children and toddlers to have quiet time peaceful cuddle rest and reflect times with you or nearby during feedings. Sing or play soft lullabies, instrumentals or Psalms.

    Loss of one-on-one time with mother affects bonding with father and causes lifelong problems.

    As the Focus on the Family article said – Do not let techology, cell phones, PDAs, computers get the way of infant/mother bonding.

  25. JoAnna

    My question is, how on earth do you pay attention to the homily with four small kids to wrangle? I only have two (and one on the way), and it's a struggle! 🙂

  26. confused homemaker

    I am going through a similar process & this post is amazingly poignant for me. I realized that a leap of faith is just that & I have to trust in Him to catch me.

  27. Marie

    James wrote about it in his epistle, and he shows that the remedy for it is trust. He tells us to ask for wisdom if we don't know what to do. "But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way and then that. If you don't ask with faith, don't expect the Lord to give you any solid answer" (James 1:6-8, LB).

  28. Anonymous

    this is so true. when i spend all my time searching, i forget that i need to just wait to be found. he resolves everything if I wait on Him.


    This hits very close to home for me, how do we get so clueless some times? How and way do we drift so easily from Him? Beautiful, like always, post!

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