What about the obvious answer…

Over the weekend I read a story on MSNBC about a 3 year old boy who tips the scales at a whopping 132 lbs, and according to doctors, his size is not due to a hormone or growth disorder.  Apparently, he cries…loudly…when he doesn’t receive the amount of food he wants.

The tragedy is that his parents feed him in order to keep him from crying.  If they could only look into the future and foresee the huge disadvantage they are creating for him.  Can they justifiably argue they are operating in his best interest?  According to the story, they originally visited the doctor suspecting the hormone imbalance, not over-feeding.

Here’s my question.  Why was a hormone imbalance the first suspect?  Surely, the parents had some understanding that their son was consuming an abnormally large quantity of food.  I wonder if the reality of their own complicity was too uncomfortable to confront.

So we ask:

Why don’t I feel energetic this afternoon?

Why don’t I have close friends?

Why do I feel distant from God?

Why is my marriage on the rocks?

Why am I not happy in my job?

 

Sometimes the answer is nearly impossible to nail down.  Other times the answer sits boldly in front of our face.  Addressing our shortcomings head-on certainly requires a significant amount of internal courage; but in the long run, asking the hard questions up front may prove to be the best strategy.

One of my greatest fears is self-deception.  When the truth is ugly, my natural instinct is to craft an alternate truth…one much more palatable and sympathetic to my failure.  On the journey to find the truth about myself I’ve come a long way…but, man I have a long way still to go.

 

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Advice, Truth, and Perspective

A few days ago I received a good bit of advice from a friend.  It wasn’t the kind of advice you ask for.  Rather, it was the kind of advice you receive from someone who sees into your blind spot.  In my experience, that kind of advice can be far more valuable than the kind you seek out and ask for, albeit probably not as enjoyable to hear.

It got me thinking about our criteria for allowing certain people into our circle of influence.  In one respect, we all value the advice of an expert.  They have credentials and experience we find comforting and therefore value their opinion.  Sometimes we know them personally, sometimes we read their books, occasionally we may even travel a great distance to sit in row 476 just to hear them speak.  While expert opinion is great, it’s not been my primary source for meaningful advice.

There are 3 people in my life whose personal advice has shaped me more than my entire collection of books.  Their unique ability to influence me comes from one common denominator.  Not expertise, but perspective.  Specifically, their ability to see into, and speak directly toward my blind spots.  I suppose it goes without saying that truth is a prerequisite here.  Truth and perspective, when combined, create the ideal foundation for life changing advice.  While 3 have had the majority of influence, there have certainly been others.

None of that makes me ready to give up the benefit of the expert.  On a general and theoretical level, it’s the best advice per pound there is.  But when given the choice between the general precision of experts and the focused truth with individual perspective…I’ll take the latter.