When I was younger, I used to believe that God had a perfect plan for our lives. Our job was figure out what this plan was and get with the program.
I believed that there was one perfect spouse for each of us, one perfect career path, one place we were to live, one church we were to attend, one choice in every situation that was right. All other choices were wrong and disobedient. This put an awful lot of pressure on every decision to make sure it was the one perfect one.
It used to really frustrate me to think that God had laid out this perfect plan that I was supposed to follow, but that I wasn’t given a copy of the checklist for ever decision I faced so I’d know which one was right. It seemed so unfair. To top it off, I often heard it said that God would call you to whatever you were least suited (in skills and personality) to do, so if you were actually good at what you were doing or you enjoyed it, it was a sure sign that you were on the wrong path.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that such a perfect plan ever even existed. I’ve also stopped believing that God would make people with certain skills, talents, and personalities and then require them to not use those skills. It seems more likely to me now that our job is not to figure out some secret plan but to do our best to live into the full potential we were created with in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I now think that our skills, talents, and personalities were given to us to be used and that enjoying what we are doing and being good at it is a sign that we are living to our fullest.
This is not to say that it doesn’t matter how we live. We are still called to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We are still called to love our neighbors as ourselves. And living to our fullest potential means that we are living into those callings more fully by becoming our best selves. The thing is that each of us is best suited to live these things out in different ways, just as we each face unique challenges in the living out of these callings.
The difference for me now is that rather than straining to find a plan that is imposed from without, I am listening for the quiet nudges that come from within to direct my path. I’m listening now for the deep, intuitive knowing that arises from the place inside where I am connected to Spirit to help me choose the option that is the most compassionate, life-giving, and life-honoring in that moment.
It seems like this would be easier—and in many ways it is—but it’s still not easy to become the best “me” that I can be in a busy world whose values often pull me away from the things that would lead me into the full potential of how I was created. It’s easy to get distracted and settle for our culture’s definition of best in the noise and bustle of every day life. It’s a challenge to consistently find the quiet and the stillness that is needed to hear my own small inner voice and the whispers of Spirit.
I still don’t have very many answers, and I still often don’t know where I am going. But at least I think I’m finally starting to listen in the right direction to start making better choices.
It gives a whole different meaning to the idea of walking by faith. I’m grateful for that.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.