The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. -Proverbs 20:29, KJV
I have always wanted gray (or even white) hair.
I know. I am fairly odd.
I have three friends who all went white-haired in their twenties. A few others were noticeably gray by 25.
As for yours truly, I have earned a few gray hairs over my few short years.
At least I am tall and lanky so that I have some semblance of strength. I am a bit of a gentle giant, and that garners some respect (mostly from my wife who can’t reach top shelves or move heavy boxes or bags easily.)
But why do I want gray hair?
I instinctively understood it as a child, but grew to understand it better as I grew.
It is not just that it can look dignified. Gray hairs tell others we have been through life. They tell others we have struggled through some of life’s problems and come out wiser.
Gray hairs are earned by learning life lessons the hard way.
I have been through my share of struggles and have earned some grays, but the Lord blessed me with thick, persistently dark hair.
It almost scares me to consider how much wisdom He yet wants me to learn (“fear the Lord”), but the few grays I do own have taught me to trust His lessons and timing.
And that is beautiful.
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It’s been years since I have taken a written test, but even as an adult I still get some well-suppressed jitters when the paper is handed back. (That is, unless it’s all on computer; I’m showing my vintage, I suppose.)
Who doesn’t remember the composition class in high school with the completed assignment coming back marked up in red from the teacher? And I only made it to trigonometry and “college math” when I was in high school—I begged off from calculus, thank you very much. My first trig exam came back into my hands with something like an 11 out of 40 or 50. (I still distinctly remember that “11” at the top of the page.)
Thankfully, nursing school didn’t need calculus or trig, but since this was before the days of ubiquitous computerized machinery—or Google—we needed a special form of math that had to do with calculating IV drip rates, converting “household” and “apothecary” measurements into “metric” portions, and the like. There’s no wiggle room in this kind of math—the patient’s health (and life) depended on it.
I’m not sure what kind of memories King Solomon was drawing upon when he wrote this…
“To learn, you must love discipline;
it is stupid to hate correction.”
…but he may have had a time when he also hoped his own personal physician hadn’t tried to cheat, fake or argue his way through medical school.
To be a student of any kind takes discipline, and discipline takes humility. It means embracing the (eventually inevitable) fact that I’m not smart enough on my own to get it right the first time. Maybe not even the second or third. That someone may actually know more than me. That knowledge and skill comes only with persistent personal application, and that, in itself, comes with the price of time and sacrifice.
In reality, the dunce hat doesn’t belong to those who make mistakes, but to those who refuse to learn from them, and from others.
Your future “patients” will thank you.
Proverbs 12:1 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Doggie Dunce photo from StrangeDangers.com, Google Images
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