22 October 2012

why I'm glad that other people have done this before

{Grandmother's Tea Party by Louis Moeller}
I like getting advice. In fact, I like getting a LOT of advice, which is sometimes detrimental to my mental health, because if any of that advice happens to conflict, I have a meltdown trying to reconcile it (surely they must all be correct!).

But seriously. I do enjoy picking up tidbits of wisdom and seeing how they can benefit my life.

Here's what I have discovered this year: when it comes to keeping a house, being a wife, preparing for motherhood, or a host of other Life Experience matters, the best people to ask are not impressively titled books. They are not the young women who are just as confused as I am. They are, by and large the older ladies whom I respect--my mom, women in my church, the authors of certain excellent blogs. The ladies who have actually done this before.

(I know. Duh, Rebekah.)

That's not to say that books are never helpful or that women my age never have wisdom to offer. I just mean that increasingly, my first instinct is not to rely on a published expert, nor turn to a friend exactly my age. It's to ask somebody at least one stage of life ahead of me. These women have probably read all those advice books anyway, and what's more, they've run that advice through the wringer of reality. I love that.

Last Sunday I was at a gathering of women from my church, many of whom have large families and plenty of hard-won wisdom to offer. At one point they were talking about the "methods" they were told to follow in their first years as wives and mothers; they laughed at how obsessed they were with those "laws" and how much trouble arose keeping them, from trying to coax a baby to sleep through the night when he wasn't ready to freaking out over every infraction of household rules. Now that these moms are parenting their youngest children, they all have a far more relaxed attitude. They understand that people don't operate according to methods. They understand the value of patience. They know that change happens slowly, and that God is sovereign, not their strategies. Certainly a particular rule might be helpful . . . but then, maybe it won't be. And that's okay.

This is precious wisdom for me. I tend to assume that there is one right way to do everything, so I try my best to find that way. Hearing these women discuss their experiences, I was reminded once again that in so much of life--though the books may have you believe otherwise--there isn't a one right way.

Foundational principles? Huzzah. Terrifyingly specific applications that make you feel guilty when you don't follow them? Get outta here. Thank you, older and wiser women, for helping me to break free from the tyranny of Overly Authoritative Advice.

1 comment:

  1. Such a good post! This is true for every area of life, and is helpful for me to embrace. Ah, freedom in this post. Thanks Rebekah. I don't want to get chained down or paralyzed by searching for and clinging to methods in the practicalities of life, but I want to increasingly grow in trusting God and stepping out in faith.