Why is it so easy to give advice yet harder to take heed and hear it? In the last year I have been on the receiving and giving end of maybe being a little too strong with trying to give positive advice based on God’s Word. So how do you know how much or which words will be too much-too soon, too critical, or just too Christian. Without too much judgement I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, as I am a Christian.
Ever been so upset, saddened, or overwhelmed and the first person you turn to just over does it? Maybe they throw a handful of scriptures with no actual dialogue, go straight to why you shouldn’t dwell over the issue, or overload you with too much positivity that it can be irritating in a time when you can’t see past the negative?
Two examples to hit the point from my recent personal experience. . .
A dear friend of mine shared what she had been going through emotionally for the last few months. Many of her emotions led her to anger and being fed up with waiting on God to move in her life. Immediately my heart felt honored she would share these very personal details. Many times I feel nervous that my words or advice will fall flat but this day I was ready to listen and react immediately to her comments. I didn’t realize until the end of my response how self-centered and intense I came across. I kept thinking to myself, “If someone was doing this to me I would shut down, smile, and nod.”
I found myself eager to share my similar feelings and how I dealt with similar emotions. I shared my testimony and advice with such passion that it simply overshadowed why she came to me in the first place and what she actually needed, which was someone to vent to in order to really release her emotions. I quoted from the bible, said I would be praying for her, and shared my side but in this situation I realized I ran with what I felt she needed instead of listening to what God wanted me to do. This I realized was to simply listen with an open heart.
My second experience came from me venting to Facebook…probably half my problem, right? Well, I did it anyway. I was feeling overwhelmed and betrayed when I let my little hands type the following sentence…”Discouraged with always giving my all-God, please show me grace.”
Not too crazy, so I thought until the first response comments came rolling in. The first from an acquaintance that filled my page with a full page response and quotes to boot. She reassured me that I can’t just always give up and so forth with bible scriptures to reference.
I have always loved fellowshipping with Christians and friends to talk about our walks with Christ, challenges, and conversation in the word. So why did I feel so turned away from these responses. What I believe and realize to be true is that no matter your faith or belief, too much is simply too much. The same overload I placed on my friend was the same thing I felt. My lesson came at a price of maybe missing an opportunity to truly love how Jesus did by meeting people where they are, being present, and truly hearing what they are saying before judging. The most powerful and loving response is the one that God gives you.
So as for me, I pray more opportunities come for me to be entrusted with the cries, sorrows, challenges, joys and stories of others to be met with God’s grace, presence and guidance to give people what they need.