Friday, April 21, 2017

How to Find Direction and Make Decisions (for the Chronically Indecisive and Directionally Challenged)



I have always been directionally challenged and indecisive, and not simply when it comes to navigating on the road. I have never felt like there was a crystal clear direction for my life, and while I have been able to feign indifference or completely fake it for the majority of my short life, my lack of direction has ultimately been a point of insecurity and fear. Last year I opened up about this in an article about what to do when you don’t know what to do. Since then I have grown a lot. I cannot say that I have arrived, that I know exactly where my life is headed and I have a thorough ten year plan - who in the world really does? - but I have come quite a ways and that in and of itself is cause for encouragement. 

Before I launch into this article, I want to establish a couple of things. Direction does not necessarily entail happiness. I know people who have their lives all planned out, who are focused and decisive as heck, who make all the mature choices at all the right times and I know that these people struggle just as much as the next human being to be satisfied and content. And while decisive focused people may seem less flighty, they are just as prone to doubt their choices and direction.

Also, direction does not necessarily mean having a ten-year plan or any sort of plan at all. It simply means you know where you are supposed to be and what you need to do for now. When you know you are where you need to be today you do not need to worry about where you will need to be tomorrow or next year. Direction is more of a security in who you are. Direction is trust and faith that our lives and our goals are ultimately not up to us but in God's hands. We can make our plans but God has his way - we don't have to bear the weight of that anxiety because he has taken care of it. 

My point is, do not mistake direction for security, joy, and contentment. It can be easy to pretend that our security and happiness comes from our jobs, our plans, our relationships, and our success but I think it has been proven over and over again that this is not the case. I firmly believe contentment is a state of the mind and heart - it is an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness that can and should be cultivated in any season. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament is an excellent example of this.

Before we confront our indecision and lack of direction we have to confront the source of it. I am convinced that a crisis of indecision—of not knowing what we want to do and not knowing where to go—is always a crisis of identity. If we would begin to know who we are, the decision-making and sense of direction would naturally follow. As Christians, our identity is firmly secured in Jesus Christ. To know who we are, we first must know who he is and be continually acquainting ourselves with him. We do this by reading His word and committing it to memory, by worshipping him, by coming to him in prayer, and by partaking in the fellowship and communion of the saints and finding our place in his church.

In short, put Christ’s kingdom and his righteousness first. And don’t worry about the rest, don't worry about direction – all of that will be added to you. 

One symptom of indecision, and a personal pitfall of mine, is people-pleasing. I have noticed this trend in my life. When I do not have a personal sense of direction or identity, I simply resort to people-pleasing and trying to measure up to all of the expectations everyone in my life has for me. Let me tell you, it gets exhausting after a while because everyone in your life will tell you something different – everyone in your life has a different idea of what you should do for school, work, and relationships. Trying to please everyone only leads to confusion and compromise. It’s exhausting and it’s not sustainable. 

When we put Christ’s kingdom first, we suddenly have a filter for all of the feedback we receive from everyone in our lives. We know how to prioritize the varying opinions and advice we receive every day. We know who to go to first for wisdom and we know whose input and feelings need to take precedence in our lives. 

Here are a few of things to remember as you transition from that season of waiting to knowing what to do and actually deciding what to do next.

Be content waiting for direction. There is so much that can be gained in simply waiting. Good things come to those who wait, it's true. Everything worthwhile is worth waiting for and God always has the greatest good in store for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. So do not be afraid or restless in the waiting. I know it is difficult when we often do not even know what it is we are waiting for or when life seems to be passing us by. It is tempting to make impulsive choices and decisions we do not really want to make simply because we are afraid of staying in one place. But the strongest roots come from the times when we ground ourselves in one place. God often does his greatest works in the slow arduous seasons of waiting, even if that work is simply cultivating a contended heart in you. 

Life is a series of seasons. There is no one end goal or destination for your life apart from eternity with Christ and the glory of God. Leave off the temptation and pressure that says you have to find that one thing—that job, relationship, life-calling—that will completely fulfill you, because you already have that. You do not have to find the place where you will belong forever in this life—you already have that too, in Christ. Instead be open to change and the turning of the seasons. Recognize that what God calls you to in one season might not be what he calls you to do in the next. There is a time for everything. 

God honestly does not care that much. Now, I do not want you to misunderstand what I am saying here. God cares about the decisions you make. He cares that you glorify him in everything you do. He cares that you do not idolize your choices more than you love him. He cares that you entrust everything to him. But he doesn’t care whether or not you go to college, what kind of job you have, what your annual income is, how other people perceive you—he doesn’t care about these things half as much as we are prone to. Remember, everything you accomplish in this life is for this life only, except that which is done for Christ’s kingdom.


2 comments :

  1. I'm very indecisive, from the big things (what to do in my life) to even the silliest little things, like what to have for lunch. It's something I've been trying to get better in. So it's encouraging to know that there is someone else who is the same way, and I'm not alone in this. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing what you have learned! These are good things to take to heart. I personally have been struggling in the area of service in church; One of the things I am doing is something I can do but do not really enjoy. I need to view it as a season of training and a way to learn contentment in serving wherever God has me at the moment. :)
    Appreciated the reminder that seeking first the Kingdom of God is our priority over people-pleasing!

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