My Life with God

Textbook Thinking

Many people need more information or coping strategies in order to help them grow. They need tips for living better everyday lives and maintaining healthy relationships.

But some people have the information and familiarity with coping strategies but don’t apply them for some reason—at least not personally. There’s a difference between knowing and applying.

Some people can and want to learn, and they sift through the information they gather, listen to others, try a few approaches, and find the application that best fits. There’s insight and effort involved, as well as humility and wisdom.

Others have a lot of information. They generally like to gather and even stockpile information. They might like the power it gives them, or they might simply be curious. Some like to keep it to themselves, and others like to share it. Some of them are textbook thinkers. Often, textbook thinkers don’t like to apply all that information they gather and share. I don’t know if they struggle to apply it or feel as if knowing it is enough and it is for others to apply. I’m sure it differs among people. Sometimes it doesn’t cause issues, but many times it does. At some point, the expertise someone has gets in the way of what they put into practice. There becomes a chasm, a duplicity. What they know and treasure becomes a liability.

People around them might be appreciative at first. People with so much information and advice seem helpful. But most people close to them begin to see a disconnect over time. Even the textbook thinker might feel disconnected and discontent at times. They can experience a lot of frustration in their own lives and in their close relationships when they feel like they can’t fix anything. They feel good about helping others, and they get positive feedback from helping others, but why can’t they interact well with people close to them?

Coping strategies and tools provide a framework, but within a relationship, it requires listening and considering the person not just the information. It requires weaving it all together as if entwining your fingers and clasping someone’s hand.

If we’re not willing to hold the person’s hand, we’re just tossing things at them.

The same happens in the context of God’s truth. We can live with it and be familiar with it, but that doesn’t mean that we have embraced it. God’s word is alive and active. But if we are just taking in the information and the words, we might not be actively engaged in it, and it isn’t coming alive within us or throughout us.

We all lose when we’re textbook thinkers.

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