When I was living through my fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt, we had a team of eight adults (campus pastor, mentor, counselor, mediator, mentor couple, and elder couple) surrounding us with support, prayer and constant wise counsel. It was an absolute gift. I didn’t know what I was doing and I was battling overturning a couple decades of ongoing emotional abuse that left me completely unsure of myself, and had I been left to my own devices during that dark, confusing time, I’m not fully sure how that scenario would have played out (but if I had to guess, I may have cut and run sooner than would have been mature and I’d still be reeling from poor choices).
Scripture talks a lot about seeking out other’s advice.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. –Proverbs 19:20
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. –Proverbs 15:22
This is especially helpful when you are stumbling through the dark, or when you’re going through something that you’ve never gone through before. I totally believe that God gave us each other for a reason.
However, I am not who I was back then during that dark season. The role of victim or damsel in distress was temporary, situational. I have come out on the other side of that disaster. There is very little rubble left of my marriage’s crumbling apart. I am physically, emotionally, spiritually, and (as) relationally (as I can be as far as it is up to me) healthy. I am not sad all day every day. I no longer cry myself to sleep. I am sleeping well. I am eating well. I have good friends. I am mothering well. I am doing good work that I love. I am resting when I need to. I am having fun. I am in a relationship with a sweet, sweet man. In other words, I am more than okay now.
I no longer need to ask twenty people a dozen times a day what I should do in any given situation, how I should live my life.
Now that I’m healthier and not in devastating emotional pain every day that is skewing my perceptions and my intellectual capabilities, I actually have the capacity to make all of my own decisions on my own. Yes, I would be foolish to eschew getting input, and yet, there comes a time when I must realize that I am responsible for my own life and choices.
And that time, for me, has come. But I am struggling with this.
I have been writing and teaching for a couple years now that only One opinion of me matters, but that lesson came out of all the backlash I had received from my writing. But I am realizing it holds true in all the other areas of my life as well, good and bad. I desperately want the permission – the blessing – of my closest circle (and, well, everyone else in the world apparently) on every life choice that I make. My life would be easier and happier if they all agreed with my every choice, I tell myself.
But I think I need to revisit what I felt the Spirit say to me a few years back when I was so upset over two conflicts that were pounding down on me at the same time. I felt him say to me, as clear as day:
Only One opinion of you matters. You care too much what other people think of you. Only my opinion of you matters.
In fact, Paul says it super clearly:
As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you… –I Corinthians 4:3
To further cement this, I recently met with a woman I have respected from afar for several years now. She went through a painful divorce after her husband left her and has come out on the other side wiser and stronger and yet softer as well. She recently remarried and basically, I wanted to pick her brain and hear her story, and after an hour-and-a-half of us asking and answering questions about our relationships, she said to me something that I wasn’t expecting.
“I think God is weaning you from caring about other people’s opinions,” she said. (Oh snap.)
“So, what you’re saying basically is that I’m a grown-up and I can and should be making all my own decisions?” I asked.
“Yep,” she said. Huh.
So, yes, it is wise for us to seek out advice when we’re stumped or we’re up against a new thing. But then, we must remind ourselves that God gave us a sound mind, that we have the mind of Christ, and at the end of it all, when we stand before God, I do not believe we will be holding anyone’s hands – not a friend’s or a counselor’s or a mentor’s or a small group leader’s or a pastor’s or even a spouse’s. I believe that we alone will be held accountable for our own words and actions and choices.
And – and this is probably the most important part – no matter what we choose, there is grace. And the only opinion of us that matters is God’s, which is informed by love and love alone.
So, sweet ones, as you get healthier and your life falls back into place, keep praying, keep reading Scripture, yes, feel free to ask for help if you need it, but know that it’s okay to start making more and more of your own decisions. The Holy Spirit will guide you. And even if someone doesn’t agree with you, it’s all going to be alright.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. –John 16:13
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