Oh, Amy, I’m so sorry! You came in with your bright and cheerful glow, and I probably tampered that glow with my unsolicited advice! I wish I could take back my “helpful” words, but all I can do now is apologize, ask forgiveness, and try to not give advice unless asked for it in the future. I have my excuses, though.
Foremost is that my “New Jersey” came out. I wasn’t raised to have filters on my tongue. None of my siblings were. None of my friends were. Most people I knew in New Jersey were just as quick to say the first thing that came to mind as I was. This New Jersey state of mind is so pervasive that I could often correctly tell if a cruise ship visitor to my home in Southeast Alaska was from that area where I was raised by their free-flowing criticism and opinions about much of what they saw. (That is, if their accent didn’t give them away first!)
I moved far away from New Jersey when I was 19, but those habits learned when you’re young tend to be more deeply rooted. I’ve worked really hard to curb my tongue, to actually think of others before I speak. One way I’ve tried to combat it is to slow down my speech patterns. (These days, I actually have a hard time keeping up with my New Jersey friends and family’s lightning-fast language delivery!)
But, that didn’t work for me this time. Certainly, my lifetime of mistakes and experiences qualified me to provide others with advice, didn’t it? Well, I probably should have first thought through the words of wisdom found on many classroom walls: “THINK before you speak: T is it true? H is it helpful? I is it inspiring? N is it necessary? K is it kind?” I certainly thought at the moment that I was being helpfully truthful, but the INK didn’t fit with the unsolicited advice I gave Amy.
And, certainly, it didn’t help that a friend of mine had died that morning. My emotions were raw, my filters were nowhere nearly in place, I wasn’t functioning normally. But, that’s just the excuse I could use for this one time. I looked at the Bible for words of wisdom on giving advice, but didn’t directly see any. So, I looked at Google and found these quotes:
“Unsolicited advice is the junk mail of life”…Bern Williams
“Distrust unsolicited advice”…Aesop
Well, yes, it certainly does come across as junk mail to the recipient, doesn’t it? And, Aesop’s advice from 600 BC was way ahead of its time. But, none of this excuses the action of giving unsolicited advice to others. So, I referred back to my best source, the Bible, for familiar searches on asking forgiveness and came across these two passages that hit a strong chord for me.
Acts 10:42, “…everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
I’ve already asked the Lord for forgiveness, but I will continue to work on using only words that build up and encourage others. My apologies, Amy; I’m trying to do better.
Your friend in Christ,