Heaven on our tongues, the words we say flowing to our intended target, full of grace and light. At least that’s what we want, right? To be that person, profound and full of depth, as if God himself is speaking through us.
And when someone gives us advice, we hope for the same thing. Heavenly voices meeting our earthly ears. But sometimes, advice given is more like clanging cymbals than melodies of hope.
Common sense tells you that if multiple people tell you the same thing, to listen to them. They must all be right. And when they are Christian, they must all be dispensing godly advice.
But multiple people can be wrong.
Many people can be stuck in tradition and unawareness of what it means to delve into the cries of your heart. And they can be lovely, wonderful people doing their best to serve God and help you.
But they can be wrong.
We can’t just take a situation and say, this is how it should be, so fit yourself to it. We have to become comfortable with questions and analysis. Why do you feel this way? What’s underneath your actions?
There are motivations, good and bad, underlying everything we do. To understand what we do, we have to understand why we do it.
In thinking about my transition earlier this summer, I wish I would have been given better advice, helpful advice. I wish someone would have said ‘why are you feeling jealous?’ ‘Why do you have this panic when he tells you he won’t be home until 10 pm?’ instead of ‘that’s normal, get used to it.’
No one helped me dive deep to the bottom of my emotions. I had to do the analytical work of understanding why I was reacting the way I was, by myself.
It wasn’t until after a month of tears that I named what I thought was the deepest problem. I was jealous. Not because I wasn’t happy for him, for all his perks, but because I felt left out, left behind, like my work didn’t count for anything, didn’t matter. Once I named that, I still had digging to do.
So what do you do when you find yourself instinctively reacting against advice everyone around you is giving? How do you discern what you should be doing? How do you discover the truth about a situation?
Here are a few things that helped me:
Name your emotions.
It was awkward and even embarrassing to tell people I was jealous of my husband. But who cares, right? If nothing else, it might give other people the freedom to speak honestly.
Listen to other people.
I heard all the advice to get used to my life. I considered it, and tried to make it work.
But listen to God more.
I figured out that I couldn’t take their advice. It went against everything I had learned about myself.
Know what the advice is being held up against. I’ve known for years that I didn’t want to be locked inside the box called ‘season with children’. So when I realized that was what the advisors were saying, it was easy to dismiss.
Questions lead to questions. Don’t stop until you are at the core issue.
Find solutions that work.
So how did this work for me, in this situation?
I was jealous. Emotion named.
Why was I jealous?
He could leave the house more often.
He was able to travel.
He got perks.
Why did I want to leave the house?
Why did I want to travel?
Why did I care that he got perks, like a phone, computer, camera?
I wanted the option to leave, because I’m always home and overwhelmed by kids and noise.
I wanted to travel because I love exploring and discovering. Also, it breaks up the monotony of my days.
I wanted a new, expensive camera.
I was overwhelmed. Why? Small house, kids and noise, introvert. This is a real need! This is not something I just need to get used to. This is something that, if left untreated, could have dire consequences for me or my children down the road. This need was not addressed or even mentioned by anyone I talked to.
Monotony of days. I realized I felt like I was missing out on life just being home with the kids all the time. For several years, for a few reasons, usually the only place I would go was church, the library, the grocery store, and occasionally Barnes and Noble. That is unhealthy!
New camera. The one I have is getting old and is starting to not take good pictures anymore.
I need time alone. That has to be a priority.
I need to experience life on a regular basis. Concerts, dinner out, conferences, movies, friends.
I need to stop coveting and be thankful that I can use his camera for great pictures.
And that was it. The bedrock reasons I was finding our transition so difficult. After addressing those problems and finding solutions, I was much more at ease. When I realized what I needed, I could hold it up against advice I received, and discern whether it was healthy, life-giving advice.
And in my case, it wasn’t.
When angels meet the earth, may our heavy hearts untie.
May our bodies be light for you. – sleeping at last
How do you handle bad advice? What’s the worst advice someone’s given you?