Before offering an opinion...
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
The question around the table was not so much what to eat, but what to draw.Skip to next paragraph
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I had joined a few friends for dinner at a restaurant that places a large sheet of paper over its linen tablecloths, together with a few crayons, for people who care to doodle while they wait for their meal. Judging by the number of artists at our table, it's not easy for most people to resist leaving some kind of drawing or message on a blank sheet of paper.
I was reminded of this at a time when I was tempted to fill in a different sort of blank. In this case, it was the blank a friend was experiencing in trying to make a decision. She said she didn't know what was the right course to take - but she hadn't asked for another opinion on the matter either. Nevertheless, I went right ahead and told her my view, which only added to her confusion. I stopped, mid-sentence, and tried to wipe the slate clean. Then I honestly encouraged her to do whatever intuitively she thought was right, which she did.
When we become aware of another person's contemplation going on, it can be tempting to want to leave our mark. "Here's what you should do...." "Why not take this approach?..." Even though we haven't been asked for our opinion (which we may think of as expertise), we put it forth nonetheless, and probably with good intentions. "After all, this person was looking for an answer," we say to ourselves.
That may be true. And yet, are we the best one to provide an answer?
Perhaps we need to learn to respect other people's "blank paper" - contemplative moments - a lot more, and learn to be humble enough not to impose our own personal views if not asked for them. And even if asked, to remember that offering them may not be appropriate. An opinion is, after all, only what seems to be the case, based on personal judgment. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, once called mere opinion "valueless" (see "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 341).
Why is it so often valueless? Because when mere opinions are put forward in an effort to instruct or direct someone else, we're second-guessing the always right will of God, the one infinite Mind. Humility is key. Realizing that the divine Mind, God, governs and guides each one of us - perfectly, precisely, completely - frees us from believing that our opinions are needed to straighten out people or to influence the decisions of anyone else.
Most of us could do a better job of relying on God's government of His creation. His wisdom, His love, His moral and spiritual law, are always present, always acting, always speaking to each of us, always filling in every apparent blank with truth, wisdom, and love.
When we are humbly listening and looking to God for answers, those answers are always found. This longing is another way to describe prayer, and praying is what someone may be doing in those blank moments, whether he or she says so or not. This, then, may not be a time for interjecting an opinion, however good it might seem. We could, instead, let God's voice be heard.
The imposition of one's personal opinions mostly interferes with God's government, with His pure and perfect thoughts that come to guide, to comfort, to heal. "Instead of relying on the Principle of all that really exists, - to govern His own creation, - self-conceit, ignorance, and pride would regulate God's action. Experience shows that humility is the first step in Christian Science, wherein all is controlled, not by man or laws material, but by wisdom, Truth, and Love" (Eddy, "Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 354).
Don't worry. God is not timid or evasive or mute. We can count on His government. God is fully capable of making His tender but powerful and infinitely wise message heard. So, out of respect for those who may be wanting very much to hear that message, we just might find out the silence of opinions is golden.
Thine ears shall hear a
word behind thee, saying, This
is the way, walk ye in it, when
ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.