When You Stop Following Advice


The process of moving into one’s own adult life can be blundering.

Just as a little baby learns to walk, the procedure of shedding one’s youthful perspectives can also be painful: step, fall, up again, step, fall, up… There’s an awkward beauty to the process, as something new is emerging that never was before, but there are still bruises.

Growing into who God made you to be outside of the lines, limitations and vision of the ‘bubble’ you grew up in is an exercise in humility, grief and joy. Stepping into who you really are can be difficult for one’s inner-circle-people (who tended to like you “just fine” as you were, thank you very much: reliable, steady, ‘normal’, the same as us).

But, somewhere on the path, you asked a question that your family of origin or your group of friends, or your community wasn’t asking, and you decided to follow that trail to it’s conclusion. You unveiled a new potential, a new thought, a new approach… and it shifted your heart.

Perhaps this happened over and over again, big questions and little questions alike, steering you into uncharted waters, taking you places you never imagined you’d go in all your days, and all of a sudden, you are building your life in exotic paradigms that don’t resonate so well with the home team.

More than likely, you did not receive the support for your quest that your heart desired. A little at a time, your inner circle began to fracture, as you chose differently, as you stepped into weirdness, as you shed the uniform and stopped marching to the group’s drum.

It’s possible that you became very lonely.

It’s also possible that you became the recipient of much advice, feedback, and un-requested guidance from those closest to you whose path you were no longer choosing.

There were tears, there was tension, there was breaking, but you knew that you could not go back to the old wine skins; God was leading you into something new, and you could not reject it simply to pacify well-meaning, but not-for-you-words.

You tried to listen, you tried to explain, you poorly executed your words and responses and they stumbled over theirs, and the whole mess became thorns in a crown that would pierce you both again and again.

Yet, after the words had been launched and the tears had been cast, you began to muster more of your strength and you began to walk out – timidly at first, then boldly – the new map that you found imprinted on your heart.

You lay down that crown, and just put one foot in front of the other.

It was then that you started becoming you.

On a lark, I recently calculated the very lovingly-given, yet pointed and contrary opinions that had been delivered to me over the last formational 20 years of my young adult life. As I went through the list of advice, a new thought dawned on me that I had never considered before: if I had swayed to each piece of advice given to me instead of following where the Spirit was breathing into me, I would be leading a completely different life than I live now.

I took stock, and was literally overwhelmed at the thought of how my life would look if I had consciously denied my own questions and journey in order to keep peace, maintain the appearance of unity, and continue to go with the flow.

That ‘other’ life would look nothing like the life I live now!

Yet, it is in this present reality where I am knowing freedom, and joy, and hope, and delight from radical new dimensions, only because of the very fact that I chose differentlyOh, I am so thankful for the questions, for the choosing, for the path that meanders past the best intentions of those who will never live my life, into places of great beauty and possibility right now, today, in my own breath-in-breath-out experience.

I am thankful for these armloads of children, who don’t make sense to the world, but who animate my eternal moment.  I am thankful for stepping beyond systems and institutions that can so easily strip the wildness and fervour from our experience; instead discovering uncharted waters of freedom, the riches to be found in insecurity, and a rock-solid passion beyond what I imagined possible. I am thankful for the warmth and the light that grow in the stillness apart from the pressures of a world system that only seeks to strip away identity and meaning and connection.  I am thankful for a space where we are free to love without coercion, pressure or punishment lingering in the shadows.   I am thankful that I am becoming unwise to the world’s strategies in all things (success included!), in order to have become ridiculously dependant on a God who is only and ever will be LOVE.  

Come friends, let’s find each other out in the untamed dimensions of new possibility!  It is time to gently lay down the advice, and the words, and the corrective pressure that aims to restrain your heart, your true nature.  You are a magnificent child of the unbound King of the Universe, you were made to live for so much more!

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