Monday, April 23, 2007

Opinions and Such


Sometimes I enjoy going all controversial on you.... so (taking a big breath...)... here goes.

Last night I read a blog post (let's just say somewhere in Blogland) where the author mentioned Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, The Long Winter. Personally I love that book and have been known to reread it during the bleakest, snowiest part of winter so I can remind myself to stop complaining that I have it rough. Because I don't. Not even close.

Anyway, the blog author found the book depressing (her right, I agree) and she wondered why the Ingalls didn't just move away following that long winter, rather than risk another one like it. And in the comment box, someone wondered why Pa Ingalls even left his hometown and his relatives in the first place--he should have just stayed at home and not dragged his family farther west.

To be my usual nice and sweet self, I'll use this word to describe those kinds of thoughts: naive, with a tad of controlling-nature on the side.

People are funny sometimes. I mean, we've all done things like these:

Our body can't take handle real coffee anymore, so we stop drinking it and feel better. Then suddenly we think no one should drink coffee. We start a whole campaign to get our spouse and all our friends to stop drinking it.

We've always painted our walls white and --but of course!-- we believe every one's house would look terrific if only they painted their walls white.

We live in a small, sensibly-priced house and we frown at (and gossip about) anyone who lives in a big, expensive house. (Ditto for a car.)

God convicts us, personally, to give to a certain charity and we start believing everybody should give to our specific charity. Or He convicts us to stay home while our children are young and --wham!-- we preach that every single woman should stay home.

(I'd list more examples but I'd probably get too convicted.)

My favorite teacher once said something like, "People who insist on minding other people's business are usually miserable." Boy, is that the truth! God created people to live their own lives in ways He directs--not as we try to direct others--and since He's one amazing, creative God, that means His designs for each of us are endless. Unique. One-of-a-kind. And when we try to control that our way, we butt heads, and hence, the misery.

I love this verse:

"Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" ... Proverbs 20:24

So true! Half the time we're not even sure what God is doing in our own life, and yet we go around telling others what we believe God wants them to do. Like, one conviction fits all.

And yet often the test becomes-- will we follow what God has spoken in our own heart? Or will we just keep doing what sounds good and safe and right to everybody else? And totally miss the adventures He had for us.

Or maybe we don't even voice our feelings, but we form strong opinions--and if we're not careful--those opinions get loose like a horde of wasps and eventually sting those who aren't living exactly as we choose to live.

Yes, we all have a right to our opinions... But especially since I've been online I've seen that our opinions can hurt other people if we're not careful. Like when we use that annoying old 'should' word. "They should stay right where they are. They are foolish to move out into the unknown." Or, "They shouldn't have bought that color of carpet/car/house. They'll be sorry." Or, "I can't believe they spent their money on _______. They should have spent it on ______."

All stuff I've seen under the heading of "just my opinion."

Lately, I've been trying to keep my opinions to myself. Or to go even deeper than that--to just let people be who they are... and buy what they want... and let them go where God leads... and therefore, end the need of any opinions at all. To me, it requires a huge step of faith to believe God is leading others and they're following right along. It's a goal I'm still walking toward, but it's a higher goal, I believe, than trying to convince everyone to live as I live and do as I do.

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