Life is a series of decisions. A common part of the decision-making process is to seek advice on what action to take. Why even comic strip characters do that. Lucy may not have gotten rich charging five cents for dispensing psychiatric advice in Peanuts, but she provided lots of humor when Charlie Brown sought her assistance. While we may laugh at Charlie Brown’s lame attempt to obtain expert advice from Lucy, don’t we all seek advice from sources that are just as questionable?
By definition advice is guidance or recommendation concerning prudent future action which is typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative. While Dear Abby may be popular, I am not so sure that I would consider her authoritative. Readers write to her about every conceivable issue under the sun–parenting, dating, family relationships, sex, career moves, etc. How can she possibly be knowledgeable about all these different areas? The answer is, of course, she can’t. But yet, this advice column flourishes.
Part of the appeal of Dear Abby is that the writer gets to remain anonymous. Letters are signed with cutesy names such as Undecided In Utica. If Abby doesn’t even know your name, much less the full details of your situation, is it likely that she will be able to give you sound advice?
But even folks who know you well may not give you good advice. When I was a teen, my father encouraged me to pursue becoming a tax attorney. Blah! Fortunately, that was advice I did not take. I became an adoption attorney and love the interaction I have with people. Let someone else interact with integers; I’d be bored stiff doing that work day in and day out.
Several factors impact from whom we seek advice. Cost is always a consideration. Lucy may charge five cents, but parents are more than willing to give advice for free. While you might want a psychiatrist to guide you, you might only be able to afford the counselor at a free clinic. Experience is also a consideration. If you are having car trouble, are you going to pick your beautician’s brain about how to fix the problem? The stylist deals with bangs all the time; brakes are not worked on in the salon. With whom you are comfortable talking plays a part in choosing an advisor too. You may not have a problem with asking dear old dad for advice on financial investments, but you might shy away from requesting his recommendation on an intimacy issue.
Many times what we are actually looking for when seeking advice is confirmation. Erica Jong described it perfectly when she said, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” We can claim ignorance or lack of expertise for not taking the action we think we should, but when someone else tells us to take that action, our excuse is gone.
While the actual decision to be made may not be an easy one, the source to seek advice from should be the easiest decision of all. Who wouldn’t seek advice from an expert on the subject who knows you intimately and who will not charge you a thing to advise you? Apparently just about all of us. We fail to turn to the best advice giver bar none–Dear Abba.
“Abba” is an Aramaic word most closely translated as “Daddy.” Our Father God, who knows the very number of hairs on our head, knows us better than anyone. And there’s no doubt that since He created the heavens and the earth that He can point us in the right decisional direction. He doesn’t even charge us five cents. Jeremiah 33:3 reveals how He is waiting for us to ask Him what to do. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Need advice? Ask Dear Abba and not Dear Abby!