A good friend sent me a text last week asking, “How did you make big life decisions like moving and getting an adult job?” I thought it was funny because in most ways I’m still making the big life decisions that come with graduating college. I’m living in the same Tallahassee home I’ve lived in all year and have yet to choose my next move.
I sent an essay response to her single sentence question loaded with my first thoughts on the topic. She thanked me and responded, “I swear if one more person tells me that God knows the plans he has for me… I’m going to punch them in the jugular. Good intentions. And I know ultimately I need to trust God. But that doesn’t help me actually make a decision.”
The jugular? Pretty extreme I suppose, but I think I agree.
Those of us approaching big transitions (which is most people I talk to) ask this sort of question all the time.
“What am I supposed to do with the next 30 years of my life? What has God destined me to do? What does ‘destined’ even mean? Should I take this job or that job? Major in engineering or social work? Move to Nashville or Atlanta?”
There are a million good choices at every turn, how exactly do you make a decision?
Like my jugular-punching friend, there’s one answer that crawls under my skin like no other. It’s the “God-has-a-plan-for-you, Jeremiah-something-or-another, just-give-it-up-to-Jesus” response.
Usually it comes from a well-meaning source, but there are a few problems.
I know God has a plan. I’m fully aware he’s in control of everything—including my future—but in the past when I’ve told people, “I’m waiting for the Lord to show me what to do” I more honestly meant, “I’m too scared to make a decision so I’m just going to not make one until it’s made for me.”
You want to know God’s plan? Here it is. Love God, love other people, make disciples. (Luke 10:27, Matthew 28:19) Really, that’s it. He’s already told us the plan through his Word, there’s no need to search for his will anymore.
Want to know God’s plan specifically for you? Figure out how He uniquely designed you, then use that God-given design to go love Him, love other people and make disciples. There’s a reason you’re a natural at some things and suck at others, you’ve been purposed for something awesome and He has given you everything you need to start living it.
“Well what if I don’t know what I’m good at?”
Start asking some questions. What inspires you? What things, when you’ve done them in the past, give you a profound feeling of purpose? Those are probably really good hints towards what you should pursue. You’re not going to have every answer, but building a future using your specific strengths and passions is following God’s will.
Close friends make a world of difference here too. Your friends—if they’re being honest—can tell you truths about yourself you may or may not see. Give them the chance to do so and return the favor. Somewhere along the way you’ll both discover how you’ve been purposed, from there it’s time to actually start doing it.
In his book Love Does, Bob Goff poses three simple questions that will change everything about building your future if you embrace them honestly. He writes:
“Tell me about the God you love. Tell me about what He has inspired uniquely in you. Tell me what you’re going to do about it.”
If I’m not willing to risk making a decision, I’ll be stuck stressfully chasing an imaginary rabbit of ‘destiny’ while living outside of God’s actual design. Blaming my indecisiveness on God is a surefire way to avoid responsibility for my decisions and do a whole lot of nothing. Instead, I’m choosing to take ownership of my future.
I’m choosing to start living towards how I think God has designed me and figuring the rest out along the way. Sayings that sound good on Hallmark cards amount to dust when it’s game time and the ball is flying my way. So I’m going to swing the best I’ve learned how. If it works, great. If not, I learn more about failure and Grace along the way. I’ll stand up and swing again.
Love God, love people, make disciples. That’s God’s plan, let’s go do it.
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