Are You Giving Unsolicited Advice About God’s Plan?

A while ago I ran into someone who I hadn’t seen in years. They knew very little of my current life situation. Only the fact that I had a boyfriend seemed to make them think it was appropriate to ask, “Why aren’t you married?”

Many answers raced through my head as options:

“Oh you know we just… blah blah blah…”

“Well, there is actually a long list of reasons. Would you like to hear all of them?”

“Ah, so glad you asked! Would you like to hear my 10 year plan?”

“It’s actually none of your business mate.”

Whilst I strongly wanted to hit back with the last response, I smiled and shrugged my shoulders at the person and said, “God’s timing.”

As a young adult, I’ve had my fair share of unasked-for opinions and advice about how to live my life. Some has been welcomed from good friends and family trying to impart their own wisdom from lived experiences. Some has come from people who used to know me or think they know me, believing that they have a valuable insight into my life decisions that I might not have considered. 

Whilst this might sound like a vent about a personal pet peeve, this experience is something I’ve seen many people go through in different ways. Quite personal questions that I have heard people be asked include:

“What are you going to do for your next job?”

“Why did you break up?”

“How do you pay for that?”

“Why aren’t you married?”

“What are you going to do when you finish school?”

“How are you going to get a job with that degree?”

“How are you going to do that job AND have a family?”

“Why didn’t you guys have more kids?”

All these questions on the surface are very well-meaning genuine questions. They are important questions we should be able to reflect on and answer for ourselves. But they aren’t always questions that we should have to answer to. At least not to certain people. 

Self-knowledge and insight are valuable traits. Being able to reflect on these kinds of questions can be important in making sure we aren’t ignoring something. If we avoid these questions in our heart, perhaps this is a sign that we are ignoring something God wants to tell us. But we must also understand these types of questions can be very straightforward for some personal situations, and very complex for others. It is when we oversimplify life – or apply our personal beliefs of ‘how things should be’ – that we can get into very dangerous territory of impressing our personal opinions and life goals onto others. 

In the past, it has been the enforcement of unnecessary societal expectations on people that have pressured them into unhappy marriages, unsuitable jobs, and unfortunate lifestyles. These expectations can also make deeply personal decisions have unreasonable time limits – like the idea that ‘a person should have their life sorted out before they’re 30’. 

Whilst we work in and around time and numbers as human beings, God does not. 

God has a unique plan for each individual and that looks very different between everyone. Even if it may not seem so on the surface. 

Consider two individuals who are married. So many things happened before they came together and so many more things are yet to happen which they must face together. Before they were married, they may have faced career setbacks, struggles of getting through a degree, personal relationship breakdown, financial strain, sporting success, amazing travel experiences, debilitating illness… all of these things definitely would have influenced decisions – good or bad – to bring them to where they are today.

Consider Mary. She was a young Jewish woman of a small town. She was an only daughter and she became pregnant with Jesus – not the biological son of her betrothed. In human terms – that would often be called an unplanned pregnancy. But we know it was very much planned. Just not in human time and ideals.

When it comes to relationships, we should understand our purpose and intention of dating. We should not continue a relationship if we don’t see a future with a person – it’s unfair to them and us. 

When making career decisions, we should consider the training and time demands required to pursue a certain career. We should focus on finding work that we can dedicate our talents to and be able to give glory to God through our work.

For financial decisions, we should be prudent and consider the people who are affected by our decisions. 

Regardless of our efforts to do the right thing, we will face unexpected obstacles, road blocks, delays. Instead of struggling against them and worrying about our “10 year plan”, consider that it all might just be an important part of God’s plan.

Elise is a medical student from rural NSW. She likes to take every chance she can to be outside – playing sport, gardening, or enjoying a good book.

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