How do we know what we know? No matter how we know it, we know that we know it. And typically no one can tell us no when it comes to knowing what we know. Why? Because we know it.
Every so often, I find that my wife needs a bit of, shall we say “correction” when it comes to song lyrics. For example, an old Michael W. Smith song contained the lyrics “So be strong and courageous…” I’m pretty sure those lyrics are from the song’s title, “Be strong and courageous”. But when I overheard my wife singing this song, I heard the words, “Sophie’s gone, and courageous.” Which made me wonder a few things:
1. Who the heck is Sophie?
2. Where did she go, if in fact she’s gone?
3. Why would Sophie being gone necessitate me being courageous?
Needless to say, my wife was a good sport and we had a good laugh over the lyrical faux pas.
Then just yesterday, she was singing the theme song to “Good Times”.
Let me stop here and say that as a child, I loved the “Good Times” tv show. Not that I found it terribly relatable to my life; a comedy of the innercity plight of the ghetto didn’t have much overlap with my life. But it WAS funny. And when it comes to funny, I don’t discriminate.
I loved the show so much, in fact that I took some drastic measures to connect with it in every way possible. I vividly recall one day in 2nd grade. A young Jerry Varner sat at his desk and earnestly wrote a note to his teacher, folded it somberly, and walked it to the teacher’s desk. My teacher, Mrs. Harlan was, as I recall a childhood crush of mine and I would certainly not do anything to embarass myself in front of the future Mrs. Varner. So, don’t think I took this note lightly. On the contrary, I knew for sure that the contents of this note would show Hottie Harlan just how mature and grown-up for her I really was.
She took the note from my hand, carefully unfolded it, read it silently, gave a smile, and said tenderly, “You can sit down now, Jerry.”
What was on that note, you might ask? These words:
“Dear Mrs. Harlan, from now on I don’t want to be called Jerry. I’m changing my name to J.J.”
So, not only was I serious about Mrs. Harlan, but I was even more serious about “Good Times”, and my personal hero, J.J.
So, you can imagine my chagrin when just yesterday, I hear my wife sing these words, “Keep your head in the water, making the way that you can…”
I immediately stopped her. “Keeping your head IN the water?!?” If you keep your head IN the water, you’ll drown! It’s “Keepin’ your head ABOVE water!” In true free-spirited fashion, she again laughed at herself and my correction. She takes great joy in not caring at all how badly lyrics are butchered, it seems. Just as long as she’s having fun.
Well, not on my watch. And absolutely NOT with the Good Times theme song!
Later, as the conversation resumed, I asked her to keep singing and she was of course happy to oblige. And this is what I heard…
Easy credit rip-offs…”
Hold it right there. Did she just say “Easy credit rip-offs”?!?
She had. Without even blinking.
I laughed aloud and said, “Easy credit rip-offs”?!? No way the words are “easy credit rip-offs”! Another line of Good Times had fallen victim to her lyrical shenanigans. And I was going to prove it.
Within 10 seconds of our verbal exchange I was typing the words “Good Times theme song” into my nearby Google search.
With a gratified look in my eye, I clicked on the link that took me here.
Did you hear it?
She was RIGHT.
She was ABSOLUTELY right!
“Easy credit rip-offs”
I couldn’t believe my ears, I really couldn’t.
Because I KNEW that the words “easy credit rip-off” were NOWHERE in the lyrics of the Good Times theme song. I knew that I knew.
We usually live lives of certainty in what we know until something or someone comes along and questions it. And like I did with my wife, we scoff at the idea that what we know isn’t really what we think we know. But pride creeps in and whispers, “There’s no way you’re wrong. You know it.”
Last week, I found myself struggling with the idea that what I have come to know is not all there is. In the changes that are going on in my ministry, for example, I’m finding that there is a great deal more for me to know. And while I acknowledge that cerebrally, it’s a different matter entirely to have an attitude that constantly welcomes the possibility that what I’ve known is not what I need to know; and certainly not all there is to know. I’m not saying that I’m a “know-it-all” (at least I’m not trying to say that), its just that when someone comes along and suggests that there’s a different/better way of doing things, I’d bet that most humans dig their heels in, stick their nose up, and rebuke the idea that the way things have been done are indeed the best way of doing them.
So, I make a conscious effort to stay as malleable as possible. Because have you ever interacted with someone to whom you can’t seem to tell them anything that they didn’t already know? It’s exhausting.
So, even while I know what I know, and I know that I know it…well, when it comes around again (likely in the next 30 seconds of life) that I hear/discover something that either conflicts with what I know or adds to it, I want to make room for knowing more.
(Just for fun, here are the lyrics to the entire Good Times theme song):
Any time you meet a payment.
Any time you need a friend.
Any time you’re out from under.
Not getting hastled, not getting hustled.
Keepin’ your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.
Temporary lay offs.
Easy credit rip offs.
Scratchin’ and surviving.
Hangin in a chow line
Ain’t we lucky we got ’em