“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
When does a loving gesture hurt so much? When the gesture comes in the form of uninvited advice.
Not everyone finds unsolicited advice hurtful. Some even welcome suggestions and information. I appreciate suggestions when I’ve invited them. But, I struggle with hidden emotions when someone offers advice without my asking.
Let me reveal my secret thoughts triggered by unwanted recommendations.
Does she think I’m not a responsible patient? Does she think I’m not capable of making my own decisions?
Doesn’t she know how intrusive her comments are?
Doesn’t she know I’d do anything to feel better? Doesn’t she know how much I’ve already done and am doing?
She knows I’ve gone to countless specialists and had a multitude of tests one. I’m so frustrated!
Those thoughts lead to guilt.
I’m too sensitive. I’m taking her advice the wrong way. Why can’t I just be grateful that she cares?
Why does it bother me so much when loved ones try to help by offering advice? I think it’s because they know I base my decisions on information provided by my doctors and research–after much prayer.
Job knew what it was like to be given advice. His own wife recommended that he “curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).
Job’s answer stands as an example of a God-honoring response. “‘Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10).
Job reached an acceptance of his suffering because he was, in God’s own words, “blameless and upright, a man who fears God” (Job 1:8).
Our invisible illnesses trigger grief. The road to acceptance is the path leading to God. The more we cling to God, the easier it is to come to an acceptance.
Those who endure invisible symptoms also struggle to accept their affliction. We need powerful advice from able-bodies friends: Keep your focus on God.
Earthly advice can be hurtful. But, heavenly advice is powerful.
Prayer: Dear Father, If anyone gives me unsolicited advice, help me answer with gentleness and kindness. Soften my heart so I can graciously thank her for the compassion which prompted the recommendation.
Teach me how to let my loved ones know how they can help. Oh, how I want to hear Your words rather than earthly advice from others. I join the psalmist in asking, “Do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord” (Psalm 35:22). I rest in the knowledge that You alone know the answer my secret questions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
About the Author:
Vicki understands special needs as a patient, parent, and professor. She has had multiple sclerosis since 1993. Her 33-year-old son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She’s taught special education as a teacher, administrator, and adjunct professor. Through her blog, she reaches out to other mothers of children with mental illness. http://mentalillnessmom2mom.net/
Vicki wrote a picture book about bullying: Heart Eyes: Beth and the Bullies. You can find out more about that book by visiting her Heart Eyes website: http://www.hearteyes.net
How do you respond to unwanted advice? How does it make you feel?
This is Michael W. Smith singing “A Little Stronger Every Day” and I chose this song because I think when it comes to receiving advice, it takes time. I related to what Vicki said enough that I could have written those words. So often we choose to listen to what the world says–as the lyrics in this song say. But the more we listen to God’s voice, the more we hang on His words, we can grow stronger every day–and allow the words of others to slip off so much more easily. Hoping that this little upbeat song of Michael’s is a reminder that even when things get to you, you can become a little stronger every day. -Lisa