Until the end of high school, it seemed as though my life was laid out before me. I usually knew what was coming next. I mean, think about it. For many of us as we grow up, we depend on our parents or whoever raised us to guide us through these next steps in life, and we often follow the education train. Preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school and then college or working. For me, the question of what was next began to happen my junior and senior year of high school. I then had to begin thinking more about next steps in life and which direction to take.
As we all know, life is full of valleys and mountain tops. The mountain top is often not our reality, but is more to help remind us to look to and worship God. Even as I originally began writing this blog about a month ago, I was sitting in the house I grew up in, getting ready for my Grandpa’s funeral, doing a lot of reflecting. God surely has been faithful, through both the valleys and mountaintops. These moments help remind me that he’s walked with me every step of the way.
We can become overwhelmed with the decisions before us, and if we aren’t careful that can bring worry, fear and anxiety into our lives. As a Christian, I believe that God can and wants to use all things. God wants to teach us new things about following Him as we journey through life. Each season brings something new. We can often obsess on arriving to the next step, that we miss what’s happening in the present journey. I believe that we can have joy in the journey, as we navigate next steps in life.
Here are some steps that have helped me navigate next steps in life. I hope they can help you, too:
- Pray and get in the Word.
This is the obvious, yet not so easy to live out answer. Prayer is simply communication with God. If you know God, then you should talk with and go to Him. We communicate with so many people on a daily basis, yet we neglect to communicate with the God who made us, knows us, loves us and knows what’s best for us. We often complain about the circumstances of our lives and wonder how we got there, yet we often don’t pray or read the Word either. Something doesn’t add up there!
- Weigh out the pro’s and con’s.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual guy. When my thoughts are overwhelming to me, I need to get them out of my head and onto paper. I’ve noticed that it can be helpful to write down what I’m thinking and weigh out the pro’s and con’s. We should make our decisions with God’s leading, but God also wants us to be responsible, smart, wise and discerning. This exercise can help you better break down your thoughts, to then better seek God with them.
- Seek Godly counsel.
You are who you hang out with! Surround yourself with solid people that walk with the Lord and have wisdom. Talk to them about your life and the decisions before you. If multiple people are giving you the same advice, I would listen! God speaks to us through many ways, and one of those ways is through other people who walk with Him.
- Take your time, but not too much time.
How long it takes you to make a decision may depend on the specific decision and circumstance at hand. We must step into a state of seeking and going after God in our decisions. This takes blotting out the noise and listening to Him, which takes time. But too much time may go by when we begin to make excuses, wanting to make sure everything lines up perfectly. There comes a point when you just have to act. When God speaks, don’t delay. Act!
- Be confident in your decision, and go for it.
Everything may not feel good at first and you may even doubt your decision afterwards. Remember though how God spoke to you. Remember the process you went through to get there. Remember the peace you had in that decision, even through your struggle. Don’t let your feelings and emotions determine what you do. Everything else will fall into place in God’s timing. You just need to move forward in confidence and faith!
I think the most important thing to me in the process of navigating next steps in life, is just to draw closer to the Lord.
“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him..”
That’s why I titled this blog “Joy in the Journey”. When we seek the Lord for wisdom and clarity, we draw closer to Him. Without Him, it’s simply a stressful process. But with Him, it’s a joyful journey.