I have been giving advice for as long as I can remember. I don’t say that lightly or in a prideful way, just facts. I remember in middle school responding to a classmates “friend crisis”. I have no clue what the story was or what I said, but I remember the exact classroom of the school building and her response. She said, “wow, you give really good advice.” Friends, do you remember middle school? IT WAS TERRIBLE! No one gives compliments in middle school! I actually received one more compliment when a girl noticed how long my eyelashes were. I still hold that compliment up on a pedestal today. No matter what I look like, I remind myself, “I have freakin’ awesome eyelashes”.
I digress. Let’s refocus. If you read last week’s post, you will know that I haven’t always been a good friend. I bring that up as a reminder that I am not perfect. Lord knows I said terrible things in middle school, because… IT WAS TERRIBLE! I also said terrible things in high school, college, and the years following. Regardless of the terrible things that often escaped me, there were some really good moments of advice giving. It has just sort of been my thing. So much so, that I pursued a degree and career in counseling. The career was short lived, however in every situation following I have consistently counseled. The skill sets are priceless (not really. I am still paying on that degree). I love helping people. I love talking with people. I love hearing people’s stories. I love to sort through all the chaos of life and see the beauty in living. Sometimes I have to take breaks and clear my mind, but I really do enjoy listening and helping.
In dealing with relationships, I see a common theme: one person is always trying to fix someone else. With that comes disappointment, heartache, anger, sadness, and unforgiveness. Honestly, it just doesn’t work. It took me a long time to realize that my job on earth isn’t to fix anyone. My purpose is to share the love of Christ and point those around me to the truth of His word. Fixing them is between them and the Holy Spirit. That leads to another point, if I can’t fix others, who can I fix? Me. I can only fix myself. I must also rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help me change my heart and mind. If I have said it once, I have said it 1000 times: I can’t change anyone around me, I can only change my reaction to them. Also, I can’t control anyone around me, I can only control my reaction to them. In every situation, we have the opportunity to respond in hundreds of different ways. We get to choose our reaction.
I am reminded of the scripture in James 1:19, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”. Lord knows I have NOT mastered this commandment yet. Your girl over here was known as “motor mouth of the south” as a child. I used to just talk circles for the sake of talking. I would have been an excellent legislature for providing filibusters alone. It has been in the last decade (and through my graduate studies) that I learned I needed to stop talking. Listen more and talk less. A whole lot less. James also reminds me to listen and then slowly respond. That requires training. It is our natural instinct to defend… immediately. Especially in relationships. We are so quick to come back in a moment and immediately start a battle. Before we know it we are in full fledge war with someone we love deeply.
Friends, go to a mirror and say to yourself, “I can only change me”. Seriously… get up and go say it, I will wait for you here.
Once we capture this revelation we can begin to engage in some more healthy conversations and relationships. Perhaps in adopting this mantra you will also see you are in some toxic relationships that need ending. Perhaps you will see you are being toxic and need to stop. I personally have no time for running in the hamster wheel. I have much to do in life. Trying to fix those around me is literally a hamster wheel. It is absolutely pointless. It only gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere. For more deeply intimate and satisfying relationships, work on you. Make YOU the best version possible.