Go Ask Alice! How to get real advice

Today's guest blogger is Whitney Standlea. Whitney is a Christian, a wife, and the mother of three little people. She finds herself floundering through this difficult journey called parenting and is thankful for God's grace over each step, jump, and fall along the way. She loves to snuggle with her entire family, plays piano, and enjoys writing (sporadically). 

Let’s face it. We are constantly looking for advice. All I have to do is look at my facebook status posts: Where’s your favorite getaway near town? So how do you get the little addict to stop sucking her thumb? Google is a great place for those DIY projects and health questions. I recently saw a quote that said something like “The quickest way to convince yourself you are going to die is to Google your symptoms.”
When it comes to the big issue like relationships and faith many of us gravitate toward written resources like magazines, books, and blogs. Maybe that is why you are reading this blog post. Maybe you have used this blog at one point to get help with some of your own questions. Excellent books on many areas of the Christian life can help us wrestle with living faithfully in very specific areas of life.
I expect that you are utilizing many of these resources in positive ways. I, personally, can testify to how God has used books and blogs to have a huge impact in my life, my perspective, and my relationship to Him and my family. However, I would like to take some time to point out a few subtle pitfalls to us inquisitive women who live in this society with constant information overload and information accessibility.
Written Resources Provide Rigid Information-Not Feedback
Keep in mind that when you seek help on a particular topic, written resources provide a concrete, predetermined set of information that does not offer interactive feedback. You can’t ask the communicator to clarify what she means, and the communicator cannot ask questions to gain a context for your situation.
Recently, I was trying to figure out how to help my daughter struggling with speech development. I read some great articles and gathered some good tips, but none of those articles was able to pick upon my own detrimental practices. It might seem small, but sharing the situation with an older mom brought on the simple observation that her thumb was often in her mouth when she was trying to speak. That was an important part of the puzzle that my reading couldn’t point out to me. How much more complicated than thumb-sucking are our heart issues? How much greater is the need for real-life feedback from observant and caring friends!
Written Resources Allow us to Pick and Choose Where we Need Help
When you go to a written resource for advice, one of two things is happening: Either you, the reader, is deciding what you need help on and seeking assistance for that particular subject. Or, I, the author, am deciding what you need help with and writing to you about it-without knowing you or your situation. 
I hope that my article is helpful and applicable to you, I’m sure that many times you do know what you need help with and can procure great resources to assist you. But how often do our hearts deceive us? So often we can spend years thinking we need budgeting and financial counseling, but in reality our debt is caused by a covetous and greedy heart or a lazy work ethic. I think any counselor can testify to the fact that many of their counselees come for assistance with a specific problem only to find out they have a heart issue to deal with that they didn’t even know was related.
Other times it is not that we have misdiagnosed the problem, but that we don’t even know the problem exists! A couple with a new child who never spends time with godly Christian parents might live for years without even knowing that their parenting practices are just promoting their child’s manipulative and selfish habits.
The Solution?

Can you see the direction I am going? I am certainly not saying to stop reading blogs, toss your books, and quit asking questions. But I am hoping to point out some of the weaknesses of these forms of advice. I am hoping to point you to the benefits of healthy relationships in the family of God. God has provided ways for us to see ourselves more accurately and live for Him more faithfully. He has done this through the means of fellowship with other believers. In my next blog post I will share some practical ways that relationships within the Body of Christ can counterbalance the two pitfalls mentioned above. Then we will look at ways to grow these type of relationships in your own life. Instead of reading “Ask Alice,” I want to stir you to go hang out with Alice.