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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

The Wiser Ones

August 29th, 2010

We notice him as we walk into Whataburger. A frail, slightly stooped elderly man helping his equally frail wife get out of a big white Mercury Marquis. While she balances precariously on a four-footed cane, he tries to pull the sleeve of her red sweater up over her shoulder.

Inside we are second in line. A good spot, I think, until I realize that the lady behind the cash register is either really new or Whataburger is having a hard time finding help. She struggles with the coded buttons, correcting herself five times before finally concluding the transaction. I take a step toward placing our order when the lady customer who’s politely and persistently made her wishes understood has an attack of honesty. “I don’t think you charged me enough”, she says. This sets in motion a five minute detailed audit of order #52, Whataburger with cheese, no onions, mustard only, fries and a medium Dr. Pepper.

My kids are surprisingly patient throughout. Emma stares at the back lit menu board while reciting her order over to herself. Annie is facing backwards. It appears she’s looking around me to what’s behind. I glance over my shoulder. The frail man has successfully gotten his wife’s sweater sleeve in place and they stand gamely, him hanging on to her and her leaning hard on the cane. They are smiling smiles of age and experience and perspective. Yes, this is taking a really, really ridiculously long time. But it’s just an order at a hamburger stand.  Their smiles seem to say that, in the span of their lives, they know it’s not that big a deal.

Annie motions me to lean toward her. “What’s up, Annie?”

“Daddy,” she says, still looking past me, “I think we should let the wiser ones go first.”

I’m always proud when my girls get it. Proud when they think of others without my prompting. Because of our weekly time spent at Carillon’s skilled care center and Vista Care’s in-patient hospice unit, they are comfortable around the elderly and all the canes, walkers and wheelchairs that come with that stage of life.

What strikes me is her choice of words. “I think we should let the wiser ones go first.”

We step back and motion to them. “Please, go ahead. I’m still deciding what I want and we’re in no hurry.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely.”

Mrs. Frail says, “Thank you so much. I’ve been to the doctors and I’ve had to stand a lot today. I appreciate it.”

Mr. Frail smiles and guides his wife forward. “Thank you so much.” And they step into their own game of Whataburger order roulette.

The wiser ones. I wonder what it is that makes Annie see them as wiser? It’s a given that with age comes experience. Yet experience runs the gamut. Good and bad. Wise and foolish. Thoughtful and impulsive. Generous and selfish. Age and experience do not guarantee wisdom. There is such a thing as an “old fool”. Experience becomes wisdom only when we are purposeful in applying truth to the process. It is, as they say, the difference between having 30 years of experience and experiencing the same year 30 times.

Do a search of the Bible on the word “wise” and one discovers that the quickest path to wisdom is to possess a teachable heart and spirit. Even King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, when told by God He could have anything he asked for chose to ask for “a listening heart”. God was most pleased with that request. God loves a teachable heart because a teachable heart pushes personal pride aside for the sake of growth. When we listen to everyone, when our hearts are open to instruction, when we’re not afraid of criticism and correction, then we’re able to learn and grow in every situation.

Let’s live so that when we become the frail person in line at Whataburger, people might see wisdom instead of age.

“The wise person accepts instructions, but the one who speaks foolishness will come to ruin.” – Proverbs 10:8

Todd A. Thompson – ASliceOfLifeToGo.com