Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Are we doing the same things and expecting different results? That’s insane. Or are we in tune with life lessons and learn from them? That’s sanity.
In There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk* Portia Nelson shares a remarkable poem, An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters, whichimplies how we can choose a life of sanity over insanity.
“Chapter One of My Life. I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. . . . I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It still takes forever to find a way out.
“Chapter Two. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place! But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
“Chapter Three. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit! My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
“Chapter Four. I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
“Chapter Five. I walk down a different street.”
People use this poem in a variety of ways. It has been applied to personal growth: how can I improve my life and help others improve theirs? Others see it as a spiritual analogy about how the human race fell into sin, and how the plan of salvation can provide a way out. Still others argue that it outlines the anatomy of temptation and how to discover the way of escape (see 1 Cor. 10:13).
Whatever your perspective, believers can gather seven practical insights about how to handle the holes of life in a careful manner. Here we go:
Hence a sane way to handle life’s holes. What will be our response?
*Beyond Words Publishing, 1993.
Delbert W. Baker is vice chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa, near Nairobi, Kenya.