We live in a day and age where comments and “likes” are welcomed and often encouraged. We live for the compliments of others and seek other’s advice publicly through public forums of Facebook, Twitter and the like.
But with our lives being lived so out in the open, it also exposes our fragile beings to stinging words of criticism or downright odd and ill-timed comments. So how do we know when to speak when we’re all experiencing shifting seasons?
I’m a single woman. I have been single for the better part of five years, and most days I’m okay with that. Most days I don’t mind waking up in my own home and doing my own thing and not having to worry about the schedules or routines of others.
But there are some days that it takes every ounce of my human strength to pull myself from my empty bed. There are some days that all I can focus on is the world full of couples and the defeating thoughts that I’m destined to always be a third wheel. And there are some days that my naked ring finger and empty womb cry out for something more, and I have to will myself not to cry angry, hot tears of frustration and despair.
This is but a season of life
Singleness is a season of life, just like marriage, parenthood, and even grief. They are stages of life and period of time that are experienced in the human existence, just like learning to walk, or talk or even ride a bike. And there are some seasons that people will never experience, just like there are some people who will never learn to drive a car or whistle or even see the Milky Way.
Social media provides a false sense of confidence in providing advice or opinions, which often leads people into leaving their “filter” behind; as clearly demonstrated by these insensitive comments regarding different seasons that women face:
Singleness – “You’ll understand when you’re married!”
Married – “When are you going to have kids?”
Barren – “How does it feel to be infertile? I can’t imagine not being able to have kids.”
Recent Miscarriage – “At least you weren’t full term.”
Loss of a Child – “Do you think you’ll have more kids?”
Divorce – “When do you think you’ll start dating again?”
Death of a Spouse – “At least you’re young.”
Ouch! Even if these words were not meant to inflict pain on their recipients, their momentary collision with our circumstances often leave behind a lasting bitter sting.
How to share advice thoughtfully
So how do we know when to speak or to stay quiet when it comes to our thoughts, opinions or even providing well-meaning advice on the shifting seasons of someone else’s life? Or better yet, how do we react when someone’s ill-timed or insensitive comment stings with the injustice?
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:8-9, MSG)
If we take some time to allow our thoughts to marinate in the words of Philippians 4:8-9, we’ll be able to better judge if they are worth speaking. If we apply this filter, we’re certain to find ourselves surrounded by thriving and harmonious relationships.