I learned a new phrase a while back. At first, it seemed a little strange, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me.
I was on the phone with a guy that I work with, talking him through troubleshooting a problem. It was late, and we’d both had pretty long days behind us. Neither of us really needed this extra problem. Finally, my coworker said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty stupid.”
I had never heard that particular turn of phrase before. For a moment, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, so I did what any great communicator would do – I faked it. I responded, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” Then, just to challenge my tap dancing abilities, He repeated himself, saying “I’m getting just stupid enough that I think we ought to just put the backup online and tackle this tomorrow when we’re both thinking again.”
Finally, it made sense. We were both so tired that we were way off peak performance, and were probably overlooking something really minor that was causing this problem. We’d be able to think much more clearly tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep, and probably would fix the problem much faster, and with a lot less brain strain. This unfamiliar turn of phrase was really the most accurate way of defining our functional condition. We were approaching this situation as though we weren’t completely there – because we weren’t. We truly were getting stupid.
Some people – maybe even you – are offended by the word “stupid.” Some feel that it is such a derogatory word that civilized people just shouldn’t use it. On the other hand, it is a word that shows up in several translations of the Bible, used to refer to things like “foolish and stupid arguments” (2 Tim 2:23, NIV) and the fact that “he who hates correction is stupid.” (Prov 12:1, NIV). Most of the “don’t say stupid” remarks I’ve heard before were related to keeping a child’s self-esteem pumped up, and how we should never call our children stupid, even if they are. I agree.
The fact is that we all do stupid things from time to time – it’s the nature of man. Just because you sometimes do things that are stupid doesn’t mean that you are stupid. It means that you’re human. Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing to teach kids that they are loved and accepted, even if they have an occasional bout with stupid behavior.
The first sign that you aren’t stupid is understanding that smart people sometimes do stupid things. That’s pretty much what we were doing that night. We are two intelligent, trained professionals. We aren’t stupid, but trying to work on something so complex when you’re that tired was pretty stupid. The fix went much faster when we were better rested and had clear heads.
Have you ever caught yourself getting “spiritually stupid?” It does happen – a lot more than we like to admit. We push ourselves so hard that we’re burned out when we finally get to the place where we’ve penciled in God on our calendars. We sit there and read our obligatory chapter or two, say our obligatory prayer, and say that we’ve had our quiet time with God. Too bad that we weren’t completely there to enjoy Him.
I’ll admit it. I tend to get too busy, and I sometimes get overloaded. Sometimes I catch myself having one of those “obligatory moments with God” instead of really communing with Him and allowing Him to direct me and charge my spiritual batteries. I can actually get so busy serving God that I fail to spend enough quality time with Him to get my directions and orders – and as a result, I’m out wandering in the battlefield, trying to figure out what He wants me to do.
Now that’s stupid.