I sometimes wonder if there is a common misconception among married women that a husband sitting quietly, deep in thought, must be either upset or up to no good.
Seeing the studious look upon my countenance one recent morning, my wife asked, “Is everything ok?” Wanting to quickly dispel any notion that I might be upset or worse, I confessed to nothing more than pondering some of our culture’s confusing and confounding inconsistencies.
Pondering, I explained, is a worthy endeavor. Luke 2:19 reminds us “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (RSV) Pondering, however, should not be confused with the fruitless act of daydreaming, though daydreaming may evolve into the higher state of pondering. No, pondering serves a purpose. We live in a fast-paced and distraction-rich culture. Pondering allows your mind to slow down, call time-out, hit the pause button, and reflect upon the curious, the significant, and the relevant issues of the day. Pondering, for me, is a time to weigh opposing viewpoints, to evaluate conflicting arguments, or simply to wonder why the obvious is so oblivious to the obdurate ones among us.
Sadly, men today do not do enough pondering, as if such activity violated their definition of masculinity. If they did, they wouldn’t have to worry about their mouth operating faster than their brain. More pondering may also avoid a wife growing suspicious when they observe their hubby sitting by himself without an I-phone or remote control in his hands. Pondering, I reason, is a manly thing to do.
So, when my wife displayed a questioning look upon hearing my confession of pondering, I sensed the need to offer further details. Here’s what I told her.
- I think anyone who doesn’t believe in original sin has never been the parent of a two-year-old. One of the first words a toddler learns is how to scream “Mine!”
- If evolution is true, then can someone explain to me how the human eye evolved?
- Why is it that charitable contributions are becoming less and less of a tax advantage? Does anyone really believe that the government can make better decisions about how to use your money?
- We should abolish the use of torture on terrorists. Just force them to fold fitted sheets for an hour and they will confess all their sins. I would.
- Why do State governments waste money paving roads with asphalt or concrete? They should use leftover oatmeal. Dried oatmeal hardens so quickly it takes a nuclear blast to scrape it off a bowl.
- Why would an atheist ever say, “God damn?”
- Why do people on Facebook pass on unsubstantiated quotes by celebrities/politicians? Too often, these comments (be they liberal or conservative) are later found to be a misquote, from a different source, or simply edited to further support the point of view of the sender. Such Facebook posts reflect either a lazy thinker or one who is a malicious gossip, or both. And yes, I have been guilty of doing the same. Trying to do better.
- How can the Governor of California propose free medical care for illegal aliens when Obamacare took away my wife’s affordable medical insurance that can only be replaced with an Obamacare-approved $1000/month policy? She may be Irish, but she is an American too. And a legal one.
- Ladies, when I open the door for you, it does not mean I support a culture where women are seen as the vulnerable sex who need a man’s help. I am just a nice guy being polite, as my momma taught me. Acting indignant and accusing me of some sort of benevolent sexism says more about you than me. And yes, when a lady opens the door for me, I say thank you and walk through the door. Good manners are not sexist.
- Why can’t Democrats ever acknowledge that President Trump has done some good things? Why do Republicans reject all ideas of Democrats? Whatever happened to civil debate, cooperation, and compromise? Methinks the Democrats and Republicans are more interested in power and ideology rather than what is good for Americans. Give praise when praise is due and criticism when it is due. Objective comments enhance credibility. Otherwise, it’s nothing but a grab for power. Or to paraphrase Mark Twain, “No person’s life, liberty, or property is safe while Congress is in session.”
- How can Americans get all teary-eyed watching the PETA commercials about abused animals or listening to hyperventilating celebrities crying about the possible extinction of polar bears but demand unrestricted abortion at any stage of pregnancy?
- For those who reject God because of too much evil in the world, I wonder how they explain the goodness in the world? If there is no God and we live in a survival-of-the-fittest world, why should we ever be good? Why be altruistic? Why would a soldier throw himself on a grenade to save his comrades? Generosity, forgiveness, and sacrifice are not the values of a Godless world.
- Does anyone but me see the hypocrisy (or at the very least inconsistency) of Amnesty International’s 2020 goals of abolishing the death penalty in all countries AND making abortion legal in all countries?
Seeing the amusing but still skeptical grin upon my wife’s face, I conceded that, maybe, perhaps, probably, ok, ok, most undoubtedly, that’s a lot of pondering for one man to do. But I read a lot, think a lot, and consequently, ponder a lot. I am willing to consider other viewpoints, those which offer a reasoned and thoughtful perspective. However, those who seek to convince me by shouting, yelling, or name-calling serve only to confirm the weakness of their point of view. I have no problem possessing a minority viewpoint as sometimes the majority just proves that a blind mob are all on the other side. I refuse to form my opinions based purely on Facebook rantings that have thousands of “likes.” Properly evaluating a course of action or personal worldview requires thought. And effective thought requires pondering. Hence, I consider pondering a manly thing to do.
Hearing my observations, my wife smiled, shook her head, turned around, and walked away. Was that a non-verbal signal to keep on pondering? Or was she satisfied that I really wasn’t upset with her or up to no good?
If she had remained for a moment longer, I would have confessed one thing more.
While I consider pondering a step above daydreaming, it is not an end in itself. If all you do is ponder, it can lead to a cynical, judgmental spirit as you constantly question the whys of your life. Pondering is a worthy endeavor only if it leads to further meditation and contemplation and ultimately praying.
In other words, my pondering leads me to pray. And praying is a manly thing to do too.
How so? I like what the author Eugene Peterson said. “A changed world begins with us … and a changed us begins when we pray.”
Now that is something to ponder for sure.