As I lay out my plans, I have found it helpful to have someone who will ask me the questions I don’t want anyone to ask me. I have a coach and a spiritual director who does a great job of seeing into my carefully concocted plan and finding the areas that I am avoiding because it might cause me to regroup and take new action. As much as I dread these questions, they get at the meat of what God intends for my plans and away from how I envision things. Some may call this an accountability partner, other wise counsel, or maybe just a concerned friend. Whatever title you give this person, make sure you have someone who will tell you what you don’t’ want to hear—and this applies especially to relationship building!
I have read, and found it to be true, that when we start a relationship with a person or an organization that it helps to have someone who knows us and can warn us if they see us heading in the wrong direction. Now we can be stubborn about this and believe that we are right, but maybe, just maybe, this other person sees what we are avoiding. And we have a choice: do we listen with an open heart and mind or do we become self-righteous and dismissive? I have been on both sides of this argument and both are uncomfortable places, especially if there are closed ears.
I know a woman who has lost herself in a relationship. She stopped listening to her friends’ warnings and slowly broke off all relationships with her friends to have what she wanted. At one point she could see what was wrong; but eventually, what she wanted became so strong it didn’t matter anymore. I have done the same thing—grabbing tight to someone in hopes that they will make me happy. I have had friends warning me that the third time isn’t the charm, but still I hung in there until I could let go. And letting go when we have fought so hard for what is wrong can be devastating. Yet, the freedom and peace that follows when we are in the right place doing the right thing is so much better!
If we find ourselves pushing away the people closest to us to have what they say is wrong for us, we most likely are headed away from the light of all that is good for us and into a situation that will leave us feeling empty and alone.
I believe that God gives us the ability to recognize when something just isn’t right. Often we feel that churning inside and because we want what we want, we disregard it. The other day, my daughter told me that every time she sees the sign for the local palm reader and fortune teller, she gets a creepy feeling all over her body. I told her that is the Holy Spirit in her telling her to stay away. It brought her comfort that she could see that. I have left groups because I am hyper sensitive to cult-like organizations because of my Scientology experience. I know if I stay I will only make myself sick and eventually I will stop feeling the warning signs because I push them away to get my way. Today I will walk out of a church or a “spiritual” program if I get the slightest sense that something is not theologically sound or that goes against what I believe. I never want to find myself apart from God’s will again.
So take heart and listen to those around you who may see what you don’t want to see. Become willing to seek wise counsel of others. Be willing to hear from outside your inner circle of friends and advisors who may not want to hurt you by saying they disagree. Don’t be too quick to disregard someone when they say they are uncomfortable with a situation. Ask two or more people to pray with you about your situation and then listen to what God is telling them. Find a place where you can hear God’s words and more clearly discover the next right thing to do. Don’t be afraid to walk away when something isn’t right because walking toward something that is right will be so much more rewarding.
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not be presenting his own ideas; he will be telling you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring glory by revealing to you whatever he receives from me.” Jesus explaining the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16:13-14