What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve ever been given?
What’s one piece of advice would you like to share with others?
Who can you always count on to give you sound advice?
Although I did not grow up in a church community, when I was 17 I discovered the truth that Jesus loves me . . . . that He died for me . . . . that I could have a relationship with God and salvation through faith in His sacrifice on the cross. I first heard the message of the Gospel, the Good News, that God’s grace was extended to me, even me, that He was calling me to Him and all I had to do was accept this free gift of love and forgiveness. Well, that was news to me! And since that day many years ago, I have searched for His guidance in my daily life, as well as for all of my choices along the way.
This has been an interesting journey. As a naive young woman I simply accepted what I was told, and trusted those who gave me advice on everything from reading my Bible, having my daily devotional time, learning the stories of the Old Testament and the words of Jesus in the New Testament. I memorized verses on how God gave His only Son Who sacrificed His life on the cruel cross of Calvary to redeem me (even me!) from the curse of sin. I sought out every opportunity to listen and learn, to grow, to choose, and to act on the truths found in Scripture. Of course, I failed frequently, but with God’s grace and forgiveness every obstacle and challenge became an opportunity to learn even more and go forward with renewed commitment to living a life of obedience, integrity, honesty, and love.
And all along the way there were these voices that kept whispering in my ears, like background music in a dark and even sinister movie, reminding me that “Good Girls Can’t Do THAT!” Over and over and over and over . . . . good girls can’t express their opinions; good girls can’t ever get angry; good girls can’t be preachers (did I ask THAT question???), good girls aren’t allowed to speak in a group where there are men who might disapprove; good girls shouldn’t be TOO smart; good girls can’t (if they are mamas) ever work away from home (I don’t recall asking THAT question either), good girls should never be sad or frustrated (and if they are, they absolutely must NEVER show it!), and good girls should just be real quiet, smile a lot, stay home and do whatever it is that good girls do at home (which no one seemed to be able to articulate what that actually was), and whatever you do, don’t ever bother anyone!
Now . . . . I realize that not all “good girls” have found themselves in situations where the voices all around them were answering questions that no one was asking, and the very real, everyday life questions were never allowed to be asked by “good girls” . . . . . but as it turns out, I was in that kind of situation. And it was real. And it was very bad advice. Because for many, many years all of these lies have continued to resound within my heart and spirit, even after my brain recognized the danger and damage that can be done to a sincere and devoted soul.
Perhaps revealing this experience will offend some of my readers. For that I am sorry, because I still sometimes think that “good girls” ought never to do or say anything that might (perhaps, maybe) offend someone (anyone) in the entire universe, through all of history. But I live daily, even now, with the destruction that comes from that kind of nonsense. God gave girls, even “good girls,” a brain and common sense and He expects us to use it. Sometimes there are moments in life in which “goog girls” are angry . . . . about injustice, about cruelty, and hatred and lies . . . . and although anger can turn into sin, anger at those things that also make God angry is a good thing. Even for “good girls.”
Sometimes children need to know that Mama does get angry about their disobedience, their disrespect, and their unkindness. Sometimes “good girls” actually do have ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are of value. Sometimes “good girls” are sad and no matter how hard they try to pretend, and no matter how hard they keep smiling through the pain, their brokenness shows through the pretense and it (unfortunately) will make someone else uncomfortable.
As I recall those experiences, I am also reminded of a precious older woman in my life who was extolled by all who knew her as a “saint.” Apparently they all thought she walked on water . . . all because she never expressed an opinion of her own (at least out loud, until shortly before she died she told me) . . . . and even though they described her as a “saint,” she felt invisible. But she lived her life by the Rule of Good Girls, and I guess she received her reward in this life as well as when she was welcomed into the presence of the Lord. I know He smiled at her and said, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” I just know that her broken heart has now been made whole by our Heavenly Father who knows that “good girls” actually do have thoughts, ideas, and opinions that are valuable . . . . at least to Him.
Good advice, bad advice . . . . . how do we know what to listen to? I would love to read about your advice experience, so please join us at Friendship Friday at Create with Joy where you can leave a link to your blog post and link up with the other participants in this week’s Friendship Friday. Have a great weekend! Nina