“Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.” (Bob Goff)
On the day of my 50th birthday a week ago, I wasn’t feeling well, mentally or emotionally, both due to the very heightened state of physical pain I was feeling. Some days have been worse than others when it comes to the pain I feel, but on my 50th, it was far beyond what I could handle. Honestly, I was pretty upset with God about it, after all, it was my birthday dammit, couldn’t I have one day of relief on THIS day God?! I know, I know, a birthday is just another day, even so, heightened pain has this way of making it very hard to feel, see, hear, or connect with any of God’s love, however it may manifest. Considering that, as my 50th wound down, where tears and angst had plagued most of my half-century mark in life, I suddenly received a message from a friend. I began to read it, hoping it might be one of those “God’s Mysterious Ways” moments, where God knew exactly what I needed when I most needed it, that my birthday sorrows would all be eradicated in this one message. I’ve had many of those moments, but unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. Instead, it was an unsolicited piece of advice of something that worked to ease much of my friend’s own bouts of chronic pain. While their intention was genuine, it only caused me greater doubt, stress, and pain, as well as a very restless sleep that night.
People often say that God communicates through others and tend to tell that story about a person who drowns in a flood after praying to God for help and then turns away the help that comes in the form of people at their door, the boat on their second-floor window, and the helicopter on the roof. Here’s the irony in that story. To believe God speaks through others, which includes a lot of advice at this point, it would include, but not limited to, countless diets, drinking my own urine, revoking my sexuality by taking up a life of celibacy, consuming edibles or some other form of medical marijuana, and even seeking out Tony Robbins and plenty of other motivational gurus. So, was God sending me people, boats, and helicopters by telling me to drink my own urine? Of course, I’m being slightly facetious here, but more than not, humans offer advice because it makes them feel better, rather than helping the very person they are wanting to help with their advice.
Nevertheless, when God has chosen to communicate to me through another, it’s always come in a way that’s left me feeling completely loved and accepted, usually with tears flowing, and with no doubt in my mind that what’s being said to me is that person, boat, or helicopter coming to help. But, when advice has been just that, just a person wanting to fix another’s brokenness, I typically feel one predominant feeling, doubt, which in this case with this friend, is all I felt.
The fact is, many of us, me included, have often played God simply by offering unsolicited advice, simply by thinking just because it helped us, it will help another. But, to the brokenhearted, the suffering, and the like, unsolicited advice like this can have the opposite desired effect and do greater harm instead. So, maybe the only thing we should be doing when we see another hurting person is to say three words, “I love you” and leave the rest with God to figure out.
I pray for the wisdom to know when the advice I want to offer is coming from my own ego or from God and when in doubt, to refrain from sharing it, knowing it could be me just trying to play God.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson