October 3, 2014

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Take time to practice humility because none of us knows it all

Patti LambDo you remember those bracelets inscribed with the letters “WWJD” that were popular some years ago? The four letters stood for “What Would Jesus Do?” and the bracelets served as a reminder to model Christ’s behavior and compassion. The simple bracelet prompted its wearer to act as Jesus might.

Based on a few recent events, I propose that we bring the bracelet concept back, with a slightly different spin on the acronym. I suggest that we wear one with these letters: IDKIA. It’s an acronym for “I Don’t Know It All.” Like the meaning behind the “WWJD” bracelet, this message is always relevant. And there are times when all of us need to be reminded of this.

On a recent morning, I stopped in my children’s school to drop off a folder. As I walked down the main hallway, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of two young students, one of whom was trying to tie her shoe. It was a skill she hadn’t yet mastered. The little girl’s classmate, a self-proclaimed shoe-tying prodigy at an early age, took the opportunity to chide the girl. He rubbed a bit of salt in her wound with, “I can tie three kinds of knots, and you can’t even tie your own shoe.” (Ouch.)

A reminder bracelet might have come in handy there.

Fast forward a few hours to an appointment with a technician to fix my computer, which I seriously considered to be possessed. It repeatedly bounced me out of programs, spewing error messages that were accompanied by annoying sound effects.

I did my best to articulate my computer’s malfunction, but the woman looked at me as if I were speaking pig Latin. She launched into tech-speak, quickly diagnosed my problem and effortlessly pressed some buttons to restore order in my device’s universe. Then she looked at me with what appeared to be pity, as if everyone but me was born knowing how to configure a network. Too bad she wasn’t wearing her IDKIA bracelet.

Humans are astute creatures. We start with tying shoes (Some of us can even maneuver three kinds of knots!), and graduate to feats in engineering, medicine, technology and more. But as smart as we become, we should never dismiss others and place ourselves above them.

Recently, we heard Luke’s Gospel in which experienced fishermen spent all night fishing and caught nothing. Jesus, a carpenter by trade, instructed them to go back out and let down their nets.

In his homily, our pastor, Father Glenn O’Connor, explained that these were skilled fishermen. In terms of their trade, they probably thought they knew it all. Since Jesus insisted, however, they reluctantly went back out to fish. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (Lk 5:6).

Our pastor pointed out that the seasoned fishermen weren’t all-knowing after all. Even though they were veterans, they needed the guidance of Jesus. Father Glenn explained that this is because God sees the whole picture. He sees things that we never will, perhaps because he looks with his heart.

He understands things that we’ll never grasp from our limited human vantage points. We would all benefit from calling upon God’s guidance.

Even if we become experts in our fields, we should practice humility and pray to accept things as God views them from his gracious perspective. Life can change in the blink of an eye, and all that we claimed to have known and possessed can quickly fade. That’s why I’m wearing this imaginary IDKIA bracelet.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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