Monday, August 4, 2014

The Secret Blessing of Unsolicited Advice

One of the things I was - and still am - looking forward to the most about this pregnancy is getting advice from friends, family members, and strangers about how to parent my unborn child. You may think that was meant to be a sarcastic sentence, but I assure you that it wasn't. I really do enjoy getting advice from the other people about anything and everything. When I got engaged, I assumed I would be flooded with unsolicited advice about how to be a good wife. Surprisingly, not that many people spoke up. As soon as I saw that the pregnancy test said positive, I was positive that this time around, advice would come pouring in. You know what? It hasn't come yet. In a few weeks, I'll be half-way through this pregnancy, and very few people have offered me advice that I haven't asked for. Some of you are probably thinking, "Lucky you!" However, I don't agree.

When did we become so arrogant, by the way? When did it become acceptable for us to condescendingly reject anyone who feels the need to give us advice about our lives? I'm sorry ladies, but whether I have no children or TEN children, I would be a fool to think that I had it all figured out and didn't need any outside perspective. The Proverbs have plenty to say about this subject:

"Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid." -Proverbs 12:1

"A fool's way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise." -Proverbs 12:15

"Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." -Proverbs 15:22

"Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise in later life." -Proverbs 19:20

Furthermore, are we Christian ladies so far along on the road of sanctification that we now scorn anything that remotely resembles Titus 2?

"Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. [They are] to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be sensible, pure, good homemakers, and submissive to their husbands, so that God's message will not be slandered." -Titus 2:2-5

I hate to blow the roof off of the dome of isolation and self-righteousness that some of us have so carefully constructed for ourselves, but being in each other's business is not only okay; it's biblical. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15). Does this mean anyone has the right to step in and make decisions about what is best for me or my family? Are other people obligated to know every intimate detail about my love life with my husband? Is it perfectly acceptable for people - strangers or otherwise - to openly comment about any aspect of my life whenever they want to and say whatever they want to say? No, no, and no. That's not what this is about at all. 

There's no way I can be the kind of wife or mother I want to be without any input or suggestions from anyone else whatsoever. I know myself, and I know what I am. I am a sinner, saved by Jesus, who is just trying to live a life that honors His great sacrifice. Maybe you have it all figured out, but I certainly don't, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Yes, I do have my own opinions about what it means to be a good wife and mother, or the best way to discipline a child, or whether stomach-sleeping or back-sleeping is better for babies. If I'm passionate about it, you can be certain I've researched it to death. 

I still want your advice, though.

Because no matter how much I've read about vaccines, ways to make a husband feel respected, or the benefits of keeping and maintaining houseplants, there's at least one perspective I haven't considered: yours. I would be remiss in my role as a wife and mother not to at least hear what you have to say. Together, my husband and I will make the final decisions on the options we're faced with and do what we think is best, but we're honored that you think so highly of us as to share your thoughts and beliefs on a subject with the intent to be helpful. To all the family and friends, and yes, even strangers, know that I welcome your advice. This doesn't mean, however, that I am desperate for you to come up and tell me - without hearing my perspective on a matter - that I'm a bad wife or mother for doing (or failing to do) x, y, or z, or that my baby should or shouldn't wear this style of onesie or hair accessory. But if you have a genuine concern or wisdom you would like to share with me, I would love to hear it!

To all the fellow pregnant ladies or women with children, please don't be so quick to dismiss or be angered by the advice of others. Do you know why most people offer advice out of the blue like that? They're most likely afraid, on some level. If they truly think they're opinion or method is right one, then they are afraid of what will happen if you make the "wrong" choice. If they have some kind of personal relationship with you, then it's safe to assume they have your best interests at heart. Even if they don't know you, they may regret their own choices and hope to spare you the same disappointment. God moves in mysterious ways. Years from now, you may look back and realize that the Lord was trying to show you a better way to do something. As we get on with the rest of the day, let's carefully consider the warning of Proverbs 16:

"Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall." -Proverbs 16:18

How do you feel about receiving unsolicited advice from others? What marriage or parenting advice would you like to share with me?

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Iron sharpens Iron, and one man sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17

I really appreciate the fact that you've taken time out of your busy life to read my post today. If you have any thoughts about this entry, please feel free to leave a comment! Your perspective is valuable to me, and I would love to see what you have to say. Please keep all comments respectful and mature - we can disagree without behaving foolishly. Any comments that are abusive or contain inappropriate language will be removed. Have a wonderful day!