Advice for giving….advice.

People mean well.

They really do!

But, I’ve learned that people have to live their own lives and choose their own paths. As much as we don’t like to see the people we love suffer, contrary to popular practice or belief, there isn’t much we can say or do to ensure they don’t make the wrong decisions. We can only be there for them on the other side.

It all started in the garden. 

Since the tempting of the serpent in the garden of Eden, we as humans have a hard time “Taking your word for it.” We now have to see for ourselves. Which is why just telling someone not to do something seldom stops them from doing it, children and adults alike. Then, we tell our anecdotal stories about how a similar situation didn’t work out for us, hoping that those stories will be the proof they need to decide against it, and it still doesn’t work.

One person’s experience doesn’t equate to someone else’s understanding. 

For whatever reason, the person you’re trying to warn, often thinks their situation is just different enough from yours, or someone else’s, that they’ll have a different outcome. Who knows if that’s actually the case, but the more important point here is that everyone is different, including the comparable participants of each of our lives and situations.

We all have separate lives to live and be accountable for, and we can only love people regardless of their choices.

I remember once trying to talk a girl out of dealing with a guy that had done me wrong. Obviously,  I was scared, but I thought I was doing my duty to warn her. Long story short, she didn’t listen to me and now they’re married. (How’s that for a lesson in advice? Ha!)

I don’t know the details of their relationship, and that’s just the point. We seldom know all the details required to make a judgment. Who knows what made her different than me? Who knows what made him settle down? As similar as it seemed in the beginning, her experience wasn’t the same as mine.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to offer advice and guidance, just keep in mind there are many factors involved.

So, if you’re the type that likes to save the world through advice, here are some things that maybe you should consider. (The irony is that this is advice that you may or may not choose to accept. I understand that, and I’m okay with it.)

  1. Make sure the person you’re talking to actually wants advice.
    1. Sometimes, we just want a listening ear, not for someone to make a judgment about what we’re thinking, feeling or doing. Before your personal experience bubbles up into a “DON’T DO IT!”, ask them if they’re open to advice at that time.
  2. If you feel like someone has made a bad judgment, be careful how you express that.
    1. People do what they think is best in the moment, and at the end of the day, they are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of their decisions and actions.  Judgment is not our job, especially because we don’t always know the inward motivations of actions.
  3. Try not to look down on people who decide to take their own path.
    1. It’s very likely that someone may make the mistake you warned them of. They may go through with it, even after agreeing that the decision wasn’t in their best interest. Don’t shun them for walking out their path. The same experience you gained after your mistake or learned lesson can happen for them as well.

We can only hope and pray that people gain the lesson in their choices. And if they find it was a mistake, we can only hope they don’t become bound by regret.

Change should be facilitated.

I hope this helps the advice giver and receiver, which ever side you may find yourself on.



Almost a Diary Entry: Nostalgia Gone Wrong

So, this past week was FAMU Homecoming, so a lot of my Facebook friends who went there were posting pictures showing that they are proud alumni of the institution. Although I didn’t graduate from FAMU, I did attend for 2 years, so I have some stake in the celebration. After a few days of the posts, I said “What the heck, let me find a picture I can post to join in on the fun.” So I scroll back to find some pictures that were posted almost 10 years ago and I finally found some pictures where I was wearing some FAMU paraphernalia. But what began as a celebratory Facebook post, turned into a self loathing spiral.

famu2009 This is a picture of me during my freshman year at FAMU. When I saw this picture my initial thought was “Wow, I was so pretty then.” and all I could think about was the fact that my face isn’t as clear as it used to be. Acne scarring has been an up hill battle for me for some years now and this is one of the last pictures that I have where I felt, I didn’t need make up.

QmvbDOM3REaTcn+EmaVnSwThis is a more recent picture of me without makeup up on. Most people will say, there’s nothing wrong with how you look, and they’re right. But like anything else, when you know the condition something used to be in and you see it in it’s current state, the contrast is hard to overlook. Although I can stand to be in public without make up on some days, I rarely take pictures when I don’t have on foundation because it isn’t something I want to capture and see again, nor is it something I would want to share.

After I sat and thought more about how unhealthy unproductive it was for me to continue to envy my past, I began to see something else. I thought about how scars tell a story, a testimony. Many people who have survived tragic accidents say that they wear their scars with pride because they are happy to be alive. And although my scars aren’t a result of a traumatic event, they do in fact tell a story.

My second year of college was pretty difficult for me, and although I had been suffering from acne since middle school, it wasn’t until that year of college when I began to get stress induced acne. The bumps would be so painful and whether I left them alone or not, they always left a scar. One after another they kept coming, until dark spots were sprinkled about my face. During that time in my life, I didn’t talk a whole lot about what was going on, but I remember being very unhappy. There were some new challenges and situations in my life that I had to face, and it seemed that I was being attacked from the inside out.

Once I got out of the environment, I began to feel better, release some emotional weight, and the acne didn’t come as often, but I was still left with the scars. So I’ve had the challenge of loving the me I see now; the face that survived.

In all of this I had to remember a couple things that I encourage you to think on in regards to that thing in your life that has challenged your self-love.

For man looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.                   (From 1 Samuel 16:7)

Image is huge in the society we live in today which makes it doubly as hard to accept our blemishes and imperfections. But we cannot forget that what’s most important is the condition of our hearts. If we focus more on the image of Christ, what we look like should become less important to ourselves and others.

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.                                 Isaiah 43:18

As great or terrible as things may have been in the past, forget it! Don’t be so attached to the past that you can’t fully live and appreciate the present. Just don’t think about it, especially if it brings about negative emotions.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! You’re workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.                                                                                             Psalm 139:14 (NLT- I love this translation).

Recognize that God’s work is good, and some things are just a part of our complex nature. Thanksgiving gives you perspective; a healthy, better perspective.

Memories are great, but don’t let them pull you out of the present.

Learn to love every stage of your journey. 

Vulnerably submitted for the Kingdom,