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Someone I respect and admire (who is brighter than I’d ever be) referred to me as “a motherfucking sage.” I knew what the first word was, but after I realized she didn’t mean a spice, I looked up the other meaning of the word sage, which I didn’t even know existed until last night. Sage is “a profoundly wise person; a person famed for wisdom; someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience.” I honestly cannot think of a higher earthly compliment. This took me back to my first two years in college. Immediately, I thought of those philosophers who were men of profound words of intellect and wisdom.

Because I went to a Catholic university, we had to take two years of religion and philosophy. There in those classrooms, I met some of the world’s greatest philosophers from Nietzsche, Sartre to Hegel. I’d become familiar with Aristotle, Socrates and Plato in high school, but in college, of course the lessons were more in-depth. As I read and studied their work, I marveled at their timeless interpretation of life, love and the unknown. Though I didn’t always agree with all their teachings and interpretations, I was impressed by their knowledge and their abilities to interpret and understand and be at times be honestly overwhelmed by the world around them.

I remember reading the works and words of these philosophers, thinkers and interpreters and being wowed by their intellect. Centuries later, we’re still discussing, dissecting and quoting their words. Philosopher is defined in Ancient Greek as “lover of wisdom.” What I admired about these philosophers is that they didn’t have life’s answers. They, like the rest of us, were still trying to figure it out themselves. Some of these great philosophers were chronic alcoholics and some battled depression. They too were searching for the meaning of life.

While I was impressed by their eloquence and fluidity with words, as I grew and experience life further, I’ve learned true wisdom is a combination of the application of divine wisdom combined with mastering the lessions life presents us all individually and collectively. As I look back on these philosophers, I’m reminded that to get such insights meant going through hardship, whether physical, natural, emotional or spiritual and having those experiences fuel more questions than answers. I went beyond their works and their words and looked at their lives and realized they were just like us. I began to interpret their works not from a place of supremacy but a place of frailty and human compassion. It must have been at times so frustrating for them. With all their intelligence and education, they were still unable to figure life out.

But life isn’t meant to be understood. It’s meant to be lived. But in college, I hadn’t yet quite grasped the totality of this truth. For a moment, I was back in those philosophy classes, a young mother of three small children who had just left an abusive marriage now working on two bachelors degrees so she could care for her three little boys and give them a productive life filled with unlimited opportunities. With all the mistakes I made and the money and status I didn’t have, who would’ve thought one day I’d be called a “motherfucking sage.” As much as I’d like to take all the credit for anything good about me, I honestly cannot.

I started on the road to wisdom by first realizing as ancient and as archaic as it may sound, God has to be the foundation of my life for me to live a life of peace and purpose. When you’re a young adult, you’re obsessed with your freedom, but over the years I’ve learned that true freedom is found in Christ. Wisdom starts and ends with God. You can’t live a fulfilling life ignoring the Giver of life.¬†On the road to wisdom I also realized I didn’t have to know or even understand everything and to lean on the One who does. Lean on him when I’m strong and when I’m weak, when I think I know and when I’m unsure. Talk to Him often and listen and follow His truth, wisdom, word and His way at all times, in big things and small things.

Because His love is tangible and unconditional, I’m always loved and I’m worthy of love. Because He’s my identity, I no longer have an identity crisis. Because He has already forgiven me, I’m free from the mistakes of my past and no longer held hostage by them, nor I’m I addicted to perfection or acceptance. Unlike those great philosophers, I don’t have to read a million books to be wise. I just have to read THE book and apply its teachings and principles through the grace of God.

God’s love is truly liberating. The more of Him I learned, the more I continue to learn who I am in Him. The more of His love I experienced, the freer, more opened, and authentic I became with honest candor and compassion. I’m no longer looking over my shoulders because God has my back. Leaning on His love, Word and embracing the wisdom of my frailties makes me a work in progress and a sage. I’m a sage y’all. Thank you Kirsten.