Saturday, April 2, 2016

When You Don't Know What to Do


Let me be completely honest. I have no idea where I will be in the next ten years. Good grief, I don’t even know where I will be or what I will be doing in the next six months. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the sensation that I don’t have a plan and sometimes to sooth the overwhelming feeling of aimlessness, I make up detailed plans that I know are never going to happen. I like making plans. I like being able to have expectations for the future, so it’s a little humiliating and scary when I realize that I don’t have a plan. When I was younger, it was easier, because life was always about what I was going to do and never about what I was doing. It was about getting somewhere and not being somewhere. Now I’m an adult just shy of twenty-two years and suddenly life is not about “what I’m going to do when I grow up”. Now I’m a grown-up and this is where I am. I didn’t necessarily plan to be here and because I never planned to be here, I often wonder if this is where I am supposed to be.

If you have ever felt similarly, if you are directionally challenged like me, hopefully what I have to say will provide you with a little council and a lot of encouragement.

First things first, don’t panic. Not having a ten-year plan for your life is no reason to panic. So don’t. Breathe into a paper bag if you have to. Make yourself a cup of peppermint tea. Take another deep breath and know that nothing is wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with not knowing what the future will bring. There is nothing wrong with not knowing what you want to do, not having your ambitions clearly outlined and structured. Know that all of your friends who do have detailed ten-year plans are probably as freaked out as you are and are probably actually just making stuff up, you know, the way you make up stuff when someone asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Do what you know you’re supposed to do. The great thing about God’s Word is that it gives us very clear instructions about the way we are supposed to live our lives and what God expects of us and none of God’s desires or expectations have anything to do with ten-year plans, college degrees, getting married, or the amount of worldly success we achieve in this lifetime (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Exodus 20:1-17; Ephesians 5:1-21; Romans 12:9-21). Rather, God's law guides and directs us wherever we may find ourselves or in whatever job, education, or dream we end up pursuing. Sometimes I wonder if we worry more about our college degrees, incomes, and worldly success than we do about actually loving and obeying our Savior.

God has given us a plan for our lives and it’s not ambiguous, vague, or unattainable. When I feel aimless and at a loss for direction it’s usually because I’m ignoring His Word.

Be satisfied wherever you are. Contentment is not a highly esteemed virtue in our society. Our culture would have us want more and more. It’s practically a sin to be satisfied. I’m not supposed to be happy with my job. I’m supposed to want a better one. I’m not supposed to be happy with my income. I’m supposed to want more money. I’m not supposed to be happy with my stupid phone. I’m supposed to want a smart device. I’m not supposed to be happy where I am. I’m supposed to be discontent. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious, making plans, and achieving more. But we have to be able to look at what we have now and believe it is enough. 

The way I see it, happiness and contentment are crafts in and of themselves. They are skills to be honed and practiced and they are not the result of any amount of achievement, money, fame, etc. If I am discontent now, then it doesn’t matter how many ten-year plans I come up with, how many levels of education I accomplish, and how high I can climb up the career ladder. I’m never going to be happy if I don’t learn to be content where I am (Psalm 37:3-5; 90:13-15).

Be honest with yourself. I am terrible at this. There’s nothing wrong with making plans and sticking to them, but there’s also nothing wrong with not having a direction and not knowing what you are going to do in the next year. It may be a blow to your pride, but there’s nothing wrong with that either. If anything, having our pride somewhat diminished is a very, very good thing. So know that it’s okay to look in the mirror and say, “I have no idea where I am going to be in a year.” And know that it’s perfectly fine to tell others when they ask, “I actually don’t know where I’m going to be in a few years.” This may inspire them to give you a ten-year plan and tell you what you should be doing with your life right now and this is the part where you can politely nod your head.

If we were all honest, none of us knows what the future holds and none of us knows where we are going to be and what we are going to be doing in the next six months, year, five years, etc. So calm down and be real with yourself. Be real with others. Chances are there are people in your life who feel the same way but are afraid to be honest because everyone else seems to have things figured out.

Know you’re not alone. You’re not the only one. It’s easy to look online at your friends’ Newsfeeds, scroll through your friends’ Instagram feeds, listen to the complex ten-year plans all your friends have, and believe that everyone else has it figured out except you. Everyone else knows where they’re going. Everyone else is making their dreams come true, while you’re sitting there not really sure what your dreams are, not really sure where you want to go, feeling like you’re missing out on something. When the truth is that many people feel the same as you do and there’s nothing to remedy the situation except to do what God has given you to do, be content in your situation, and wait and see what happens next.

Eliminate distractions. I recently read this wonderful article on how we are Distracting Ourselves to Death by Joseph Pearce. Discontentment is often a product of being distracted from reality and instead absorbed with social media. Pearce points out the affects social media can have on our psychosis and how distracting ourselves via social media—whether that’s TV, Facebook, Instagram, etc—actually makes us progressively more discontent with reality. Taking a break from these distractions allows us to open up to the beauty and truth around us and instead of inspiring restlessness; we open ourselves up to gratitude and thankfulness which inspires wonder. If you feel chronically discontent, consider cutting out social media distractions from your lives (and yes that includes Netflix) and take more time to be thankful and inspired by what’s around you.

Finally, come up with all the plans you want. I want to close by clarifying that there is nothing wrong with coming up with ten-year plans and having a long-term direction in your life. Making plans is good. Being ambitious is good. Make as many plans as you want to, but don’t be afraid to throw your plans in the trash, and don’t freak out when circumstances upset your plans. Don’t feel like you’re somehow missing out simply because you’re not as ambitious as others. Your plans and ambition do not define you. Remember your true calling in life and remember that no matter what, God’s will is ultimately done in your life, not your own will. Whatever you do, do it unto his glory. Obey him in all things. Be content where he has put you in life. Be content with how he made you, with all of your gifts and limitations.

In conclusion, I wrote this to myself because this is something I have been personally wrestling with over the last few months. God has put me in a good place and I waste my time and energy with my discontentment. Hopefully my thoughts shed some perspective on this subject and offer some encouragement to anyone who has felt similarly. Have you ever felt discontent or in need of direction? How do you respond? Are there any Scripture passages you go to? Please share in the comments below or feel free to email me at jehovahreigns@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

In case you had not heard the news, my blog has an official Facebook page! Go and like it if you haven't already. I'll be sharing sneak previews for some upcoming posts as well as some hysterical "bloopers" from upcoming fashion posts. To all those who have already liked my page and followed my blog, thanks for all the love and support! 

8 comments :

  1. Thanks, Dani! Even though I know I know I am not the only one out there not sure where they will be even in one month, it is nice to hear that other people are struggling with the same thing. I'll be praying for you. :)

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    1. Thank you for your prayers, Allison! You are definitely not the only one. :)

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  2. Thought I was the only one feeling like this . . . Thank you for this post.

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    1. Lindsay, you are not alone! Anytime you need a little encouragement, just let me know now. Thank you for your response!

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  3. Oh, Dani...this was a beautiful post and something that encouraged me...just knowing there is another young lady in the same boat is comforting - God has each of us in the palm of His mighty hand and I know we can trust Him! Be blessed, Dani! Hugs to you...

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    1. Thank you, Kelly-Anne! I think at the heart of fear and discontentment there is always a lack of trust in our God. The good news is we can trust Him and He is worthy of our trust...He has a plan and a future even if we can't see it or imagine it. :)

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  4. I came across your blog through a friend of a friend and I love this post!!! It was very eye opening and encouraging! I have been feeling this way with a couple of things lately. Chiefly, my college education! Where to go, what to take, when to go. You know the drill! Here are some verses I have found comforting through these times:
    Psalms 27:14 "Wait on the LORD : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD."
    Psalms 37:7 "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."

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    1. Sarah, thank you so much for sharing and for following my blog! I'm glad this post was encouraging and, yes, I definitely know the drill. Those are fantastic verses and Psalm 27 has definitely been in my head and heart a lot this year. I think the hardest part of not knowing what your future holds and not knowing what you want to do is the sensation of waiting without expectation, waiting when you don't know what you're waiting for. But nothing in this life is certain, nothing but the glory that awaits us once we're done with this life. So the only thing we can wait on with eager expectation is our God!

      Thanks again Sarah! You have a blessed day. :)

      Dani xoxo

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