Claudine Phillips

Why I just say, “here is a suggestion,” not advice


Have you ever been journalling and you can’t write fast enough to keep up with the REVELATION you are having at the moment? This happened to me today, but let’s back up a few days so you can see WHY it was such an amazing revelation.

I was waiting patiently for a book club, women’s group, knitting group, anything group to be invited to. To be frank, I wanted an invitation to jump into my lap and hug me. I was waiting for the neon sign of “YOU ARE WANTED IN THIS GROUP!” kind of invite standing at my front door flashing in my favorite colors.  In this wait, I got nothing. Nut-in.

So, after THREE WHOLE MONTHS, that seemed like an eternity, I sent THE invitation out for my first If:Table here in Colorado. The invite I wanted IN my inbox, was sent OUT of my outbox. It went something like this, “Come join me, I have a hug waiting for you.” That’s what I wanted, at least, a hug, and I have heard to do the very thing you want and it will come back to you. So I did.

I was nervous  like I had been before when I invited strangers to gather and share our stories. I was unsure that anyone would come. My stomach turned and I was wreck of a person from the minute the invite was sent out. The jitters remained all the way through our time together and seemed to hang on until this morning (two days post event).

I got up early and decided to journal this feeling of nervousness OUT on paper and UP to the Lord to sort. I couldn’t bear the weight of this gravitous feeling anymore. The weight had resolved itself into fussing at my kids over putting pancakes in a ZIPLOCK correctly. It was re-dic-u-lous. So I thought, I better get out what was messing me up and move on to purposely peaceful places.

As I journaled I saw the transformation happen before my eyes as if my pen was guided by something other than my own strength. Truth was being written before my eyes and it was an arduous task to relent to the scribbles. I fought the desire to close the notebook, but something kept me from putting it down. I couldn’t stop. My pen took off with much to say.

During this time of gathering with new friends, a  tender soul was sharing something super deep and messy. She took the road less traveled and it was beautiful. She was imperfect, snotty, and REAL. She pleaded for help and cried for comfort. The eight of us sat there, some weeping with her, some being curious, others giving her the intentional eye contact she needed at that moment so she knew she was loved, so loved.

What did I do? I was compassionate, of course, and I felt her pain. My desire to relate and comfort was bubbling within me, but what came out was offensive, judgmental, and NOT COMFORTING.

I gave advice.

I shared with her my similar pain (which is awesome), but then “told her what she needed to do.” As soon as I shared, a nauseating, yet familiar, feeling came over me and it didn’t leave. For two days I struggled with this awareness I could not sort until today. As my pen danced happily all over my notebook, my reluctant heart read:

“When you give advice, you are trying to make the uncomfortable mess you are witnessing PERFECT. Her mess is triggering your mess inside of you. If you can fix her with your awesome advice, you can fix you without having to focus on you.” 

Although my advice may have sounded good to those listening, it wasn’t for her, but for me. It was so I could feel better, and clearly not for her betterment.

Have you ever been in the company of a “know it all”, a person that seems to have the answer for everything, the an expert? After further meditation on this topic, I came to realize that this kind of thing doesn’t happen infrequently, but TOO frequently. I have found that people want to be LOVED, not judged or given advice. They want to know its going to be OK by your listening, serving, hugging, and crying empathetically, not by telling them the higher road, the solution, YOUR solution. Leave that up to the One who knows. The One that created the mess in the first place for whatever reason He deems and get out of the way.

My assignment is to just LOVE.

I have sensed this tugging in my heart of “Why do I feel like I need to give advice all the time? I am the least qualified to do so, but I do it ALL the time.”

I met a woman two years ago here in the mountains. She was actually my first friend. We look so much alike people think we are sisters. I receive that because she is a knock out, but whose counting? I found that I uttered advice to this friend regularly. She came to mind as this revelation settled into my soul. I made a note to myself to call her and confess my advice giving follies. Once I closed my notebook and was positioning myself to stand, my phone rang. IT WAS HER!

We rarely talk on homeschool days and there she was calling me before 8 am {gasp} to talk about that night. Her agenda was full of excitement and praise, mine was confession. I stood there in awe as I listened to the joy and excitement in her voice of having a group so authentic and safe and how thankful she was to be a part of it. I was shocked. I joined her in the excitement and got teary of the Lord’s hand in our lives, these women’s lives, but the confession sat there ready and willing.

There was a pause in our praising and I went for it head on and confessed. I shared my clarity and release from bondage and she celebrated with me in a big way. She brought it back to God and we stood in freedom. My sister in Christ, celebrating a new birth. My sister, holding my heart and lifting to Jesus saying thank you, thank you. No condemnation, no “I told you so’s”, just praise.  I know I have hurt her and pushed her away with my advice in the past. I’m glad she’s still here. I am grateful for forgiveness.

If that was not enough, I ran into the tender soul I advised days ago. We chatted and then, again, I went for it and apologized for giving advice that was not commissioned. God is good.

So good-bye advice. Good-bye feeling like I need to live up to the advice I give. Good-bye bondage of trying to fix others to take the light off of me. Good-bye shame.

Hello leaning into grief with a friend. Hello shedding tears with the hurting. Hello standing in the gap for others by sitting silently with one another. Hello freedom. Hello Lord.

Holy Spirit you are welcome here,

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.

Your glory God is what our hearts long for,

To be overcome by your presence Lord.

– Kim Walker Smith

The above lyrics are from one of my favorite songs, Holy Spirit. I am reminded to get out of the way and welcome the Holy Spirit into my space. I seek to give glory to Him in everything.

No advice I could ever give could compare to the freedom His words breathe into the hurting.

I know this. I have been overcome by Him.


Comments are closed.