I was very opinionated. Weren’t we or aren’t we all? At least the family I grew up in was and the people I associated with were. It didn’t matter the topic, I knew what I believed to be true and how it fit into my world. I was aware not everyone believed as I did. That was okay too. I knew someday they would come around.
So what is an opinion? The dictionary simply defines it like this:
Opinion – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
Wikipedia defines it this way:
In general, an opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive. It may deal with subjective matters in which there is no conclusive finding. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are more likely to be verifiable, i.e. can be agreed to by the consensus of experts.
Now, I’m certain we would all believe our opinions really were based around facts, you know the facts we had experienced and lived through. The stories we had heard about.
As I got older, to be more precise around age 50, something happened to me that caused me to let go of my opinions. It began simply, without me being aware of it. I became quieter and began to listen more to others. Honestly I believe I had grown weary of my own thoughts and beliefs. It was refreshing to hear others “opinions”.
I was tired of the life I had created. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very good things in my life and from the outside many would say I had it all. I did have it all, except, peace in my heart and hope for the future. Every road I walked down felt like a dead end. I had always had an open mind and pursued every avenue, things others shied away from. I wanted to know about everything and not just hear about it but to experience it.
I was a fact gatherer. I took so many college classes, on nearly everything. I didn’t care about the degree, although I got some of those too. I just wanted the facts. I wanted the truth. I wanted my opinions to be accurate. I guess it was pride in the end that made me care about that.
But no matter how many facts I gathered or experiences I had my opinions were still just that, my opinions and oftentimes when I stated them others did not agree.
One day, a few years ago I went for a walk deep in the woods. I love heading out alone, to be with my own thoughts. I walked awhile and saw the sun’s rays beaming through onto a clearing in the forest so I made my way there. I stood with my face turned upwards and raised my hands and enjoyed the warmth on my face. I looked at the leaves and trees and little animals of whose homes I had probably just stepped on and I knew something right then, that I knew nothing. I sat on a log and pondered how little I knew.
No matter how much I had learned along the way there was always more. My opinions had changed over the past years and when I listened to others it seemed evident where they got their own facts to form their own opinions. I began to take a survey of sorts and ask everyone I was around the same exact question. One that did not have a clear answer that could be proven with facts. Oh my, how the answers varied and even more amazing how I believed at times people would even die to defend their opinion if I gently pushed them in the opposite direction.
My thoughts became more and more still. When I went for my walks in the forest I wasn’t reasoning anymore. I was simply walking. I didn’t care if I had the answers for the first time in my life. I was happy when my thoughts produced even more questions. Perhaps for the first time I was using my brain in its creative way it was intended for.
I soon found my opinions were gone. I was simply “being”. It was all new and I didn’t understand it. So I asked my best friend what happened to all my opinions because I didn’t have them anymore, like it was a bad thing. I felt alone and non intellectual.
Now for me, God is my very best friend. When I was young I had experiences that made me realize people would come and go in my life. As I got older I was lonely as fewer people came and went. I would reach out to God during those times and found it may have been a long time since I had talked with Him but He was always right there ready to listen. He never judged me either. It was perfect I could talk and talk and He would listen for endless hours.
On this day I asked Him what happened to my opinions. He gently pointed me to this verse, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2 (NIV)
I had been a fool for most of my life. Let’s say I make it to 100, I will have been a fool for half my life. I do not want to be a fool any longer. How about you?