As a teenager there were a handful of folks I went to for advice. There was my mom and dad (who were sometimes the absolute best, and other times didn’t know anything at all, according to my teenaged brain – sorry, mom and dad!), my youth group leader, a camp counselor, a trusted older friend.
Depending on what I was going through (almost all teenage girls are going through something all the time because that’s just the developmental stage they’re in), I’d turn to one of them for counsel.
Boy trouble? Trusted older friend.
Questions about God? The camp counselor or the youth group leader.
Why my chocolate chip cookies kept spreading so much they dripped off the cookie sheet and onto the bottom of the oven? Dad. (Even when my teenaged brain thought he pretty much didn’t know anything because, well, that’s a phase most teenagers go through no matter how wise their parents are, I still understood that he could bake cookies like a boss.)
The circle was small. Each person in it was trustworthy and wise. Each one of them loved me and had my best interests at heart.
There were also my go-to authors, those I trusted enough to open my heart to regularly. They’d been recommended by friends and relatives and pastors, and I’d read enough of each of them to know I wanted their voices in my head.
Authors like C. S. Lewis, Amy Carmichael, Anne Lamott, James Herriot, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Bill Watterson. (Hey, I never said they weren’t an eclectic group.)
Fast-forward two decades or so and now, in an average day, without even really thinking about it, I invite probably a hundred different voices into my life. There are still the trustworthy voices – my husband, my parents, dear friends, folks from church, our neighbors across the street. But there are many, many others, too.
The random podcast I stumble upon. The celebrity blogger. The newscaster. The 20-something sitting behind a screen somewhere at Facebook creating algorithms that dictate what will pop up in my social media newsfeed. The fashion trend of the week. The latest political scandal, digested and distributed by a thousand pundits.
There are days I spend more time with NPR’s Michelle Norris during my commute than I do with Jesus.
There are weeks when I listen more to the cast of The Office than I do to thoughtful, published, respected authors of great literature.
The book of Proverbs is a great antidote to our slash-and-burn culture of sound bytes and half-digested ideas, reminding us of the source of all wisdom:
From 2:6 –
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
From 4:6 –
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
From 14:15-16 –
The simple believe anything,
but the prudent give thought to their steps.
The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,
but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.
In a cacophony of voices clamoring for our attention and our clicks and our money and our souls, let us gather wise counselors. The Lord, the trusted friend, the respected colleague, the person we know will tell us the truth even when it stings. And let us listen slowly and deeply and well to one another as we seek the path of justice, righteousness, holiness, and love.
Who do you go to for counsel?