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April Jeppson: You don’t have to go through life alone

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

Little known fact: My husband is a history major. His intent after college was to get his master’s in librarian science and become a librarian. Most people don’t realize there is a special master’s degree dedicated to this. As a child, I simply thought if you loved reading enough, the past librarian would knight you as the new librarian and then you got to live with the books. But I digress.

April Jeppson

So my husband being a history buff always has these little tidbits of knowledge, which we have coined as “fun facts.” So he comes at me this week with a random fun fact. The last Saxon king of England went by the nickname of Aethelred the Unraed. Many historians for centuries mistranslated this name as Aethelred the unready. Which indicated that he was unprepared for the Viking invasion that ultimately came and ousted him from power. In reality, “raed” is an old Saxon word for counsel. So Unraed actually better translates to “refuse to take counsel or advice.” So the Vikings being able to overthrow him wasn’t because he was unprepared, it was that he refused to take counsel.

I love stories like this. I could ponder on them for days, and I do. I have been thinking a lot about seeking counsel and going to friends for advice. Most of us don’t even think about it, we just do it. Church council, school board, even the president appoints people around him that are experts in their field. Where we can’t appoint experts, we have books and blogs that we can learn from.

After I had my first child I asked all sorts of questions to my friends who already had babies. The internet was finally at a place where I could search for answers and actually get some useful feedback. Questions about feeding, sleeping, baby sounds, diapers. As a new mom who rarely babysat, I had a lot of questions. However, I didn’t seek everyone’s advice.

My mother raised two perfectly healthy kids. I trusted her to watch my son; however, I didn’t always listen to her advice. If she had a suggestion for a better way, I often brushed it aside. My thought process was that her information was almost 30 years old. There have been so many developments since I was a baby. I needed the newest advice because it was somehow better.

In hindsight, I see how silly I was being. A baby today is the same as a baby 500 years ago. They need sleep and food and snuggles. Sure, there’s more science and technology available, but that only goes so far. Sometimes wisdom and experience trump the latest study. Sometimes old school works for a reason. Mom, here is my public formal apology for not trusting the information you were trying to give me. I love you.

However, the thing with counsel is that it’s not having others boss you around. Sure, you surround yourself with others ideas and input, but it’s ultimately up to you to weed through the information and determine what path to take. Twelve years ago I didn’t heed my mother’s advice, and that was not wise of me. Thankfully, I have learned from this (as well as a multitude of other experiences) and am slightly better at utilizing the information I am given.

You are not alone. Whatever difficult decision you are facing in your home or at work, I promise there are others who can help. Seek those older and wiser who have been there. Seek those with the experience or expertise that you lack. You’d be surprised at how much knowledge is readily available to you if you open up your mind to accept it. I didn’t accept my mothers advice because it wasn’t fancy enough — her answer was too simple. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. You don’t have to do it alone.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.