16 April, 2013

Choose Wisely

One of the things that really gets under my skin is when people repeatedly ask for my advice, but they seemingly never take my advice to heart or to follow it. I'm not so arrogant or vain as to think that I always have the right answers... I know better. In fact, many times I will tell people that I simply don't have the answer for their situation or that I don't know what I'd do if I were in their situation. But there are many times that I do have the answer. There are times that the answer is a no-brainer if the person would simply look at the situation with honesty and common sense, but they are thinking with their emotions or hormones and, for some people, the later always wins out. For instance, the young lady who is dating a guy who she has caught cheating repeatedly. There really is no need for advice for a person who is thinking rationally... but the emotions/hormones rage and she takes him back again and again and finds herself pregnant. Of course, the guy dumps her, only to be taken back again. Then it is only a matter of time and he cheats again... and again... and again. There is break up after break up but she takes him back with idle promises of fidelity, only to be crushed when it happens again. I (and many others), thinking through wisdom and experience give advice to leave that guy in the past and learn. But there are others giving their great advice, "If you love him, give him a chance. If he loves you, he won't do it again."  So they end up marrying the guy, thinking that a ring and a piece of paper will change things... but the "vows" this sort of guy makes at the altar are meaningless drivel, no more sincerity in those words than the time he begged his way back into her bed countless times before. The sad thing is that exact same situation has played out more times than I can count... and a few months later I am now dealing with a divorced young lady who is now a single mom raising children alone while they try to overcome with deep emotional scars from the broken relationship and dreams. Then the next young girl comes along and you share the horror stories of these other women with them... only to watch them follow the same destructive path, thinking they know better and that "their man" is different and they can change him. "Second verse, same as the first." 

So, I've had yet another sleepless night as my heart breaks for yet another one of these women living out the same scenario, and I feel like I'm watching a warped version of the movie, "Groundhog Day."  As I lay awake at 4:00 this morning thinking about this and asking my self why I even bother trying to give advice at all, I got to thinking about the types and sources of advice that people turn to and listen to. Many newspapers and magazines have advice columns such as Dear Abby, Ann Landers, and so on. I have not read them in years, but when I was just a kid growing up in Davenport, Iowa, I can recall reading the advice column where they asked some woman named "Rona" for her advice. I can remember that even as a kid of 10 years old thinking that some of the people who submitted the questions seemed to lack common sense and good judgment. Of course, Rona (whoever that was) would politely point out the simple common sense to them and would then outline a solution for them. There were some who had some really serious, even life-altering situations to which there were no easy answers. But most of the writers asking questions fell somewhere in between those two extremes. And that's the way it is with most of us in life, and we go around asking others for their advice. The thing is, when you are asking advice, you need to be careful who you ask. You can get advice from friends or professionals, and the facts are that some advice is good, sound advice, and some of it is utter foolishness, and sometimes it is the professional that gives the most foolish advice! So the question is, "How can people know which advice to take?" For me, that answer is quite simple: By going to God’s Word for guidance and by consulting a trustworthy, godly believer for help in some of life’s sticky situations.

The problem is, many people are not looking for godly counsel or advice... they are looking for advice that fits into their selfish desires and plans. In the Bible we see this same scenario played out. Absalom received two different sets of advice and chose the wrong advice to follow... which led to his death. He sought out advice from more than one source (one godly, one not) and then Absalom said, "The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” (2 Samuel 17:14). The fact is, that advice was not "better," but rather that he liked that advice better because it was going to give him what he wanted. The thing is, seldom do we actually get what we want when we are following our selfish desires, rather than the will of God. But somehow we think we know better and that we can turn the situation around into something that we can convince God that he was wrong about and he will tell us, "Oh... you must have been right."  Sounds foolish, but that's exactly what we are thinking in the depth of our heart when we go in any direction other than what God says. I am amazed at the number of times I've heard young people tell me that the had prayed and God had told them that the man or woman they were dating was not the one for them, yet they continued on in that relationship and then later come crying and blaming God for the mess they have made of their lives. This is serious stuff... determining whose advice we will follow. In fact, it can be a matter of life or death, or totally change the path of our lives if we listen to the wrong voices and make the wrong decisions. We need to choose carefully. That is one of the reasons that we should pray and ask God to lead us to the people who can speak truth into our lives, even when it is not what we want to hear.

No comments: