Many of you, by now, will know that one of the things I do here and there is facilitate a Focus on the Family parenting course ('Starting Points') which is aimed at the 0-4 years. This past month I've had cause to ponder the subject of 'advice'.
In many areas of life, we come to situations where we seem to be the recipient of a lot of well-meaning 'advice'. It might be parenting, perhaps it's regarding a medical dilemma. It might be career advice...how to deal with a sticky situation. All kinds of things. With all that advice, there are also times where we might end up being criticised as well. I'm sure you have a multitude of other such times where you've experienced what I'm talking about here.
One of the things 'Starting Points' reminded me of, this time around, is that there is great value in sharing our stories with one another. I have decided that I far prefer this version of walking through life with other people, than the "this is what I did, and it worked so it should work for you too". The older I get, the more comfortable I am with how I do things and why. I'm also more inclined to feel comfortable saying, "Yeah, you know what? That just doesn't work for me".
I finally figured out that I really value the sharing of stories between people when I studied Genesis a few years back, and the next year studied Romans. Genesis was rich and filled with things that I could take and learn from. Things that I could apply. I found that through reading about the lives of the people in Genesis that so much of what they went through meant a lot to me. In Romans, the bear facts type of information delivery just overloaded me and gave me very little in the way of a frame of reference for how any of it actually related to me in a day to day way.
I have a friend who is often heard to say "give me your wisdom about....". I love how she puts that. To me, that says that she's interested in opinions and stories so that she can make decisions and choices based on a wide variety of people's perspectives and experiences.
So...who's with me? Let's enjoy the stories of others. Stories about how they do life. How the journey looks and feels for them and what it teaches them. Let's listen carefully and learn well. Let's not dictate and subject those around us to the "this is what worked for me, so that's how you should do it too" kind of advice giving.