Seek direction, not perfection
How to face the scary world of growing up and making decisions.
What do you want to be when you grow up? (I wanted to be Wonder Woman. I made myself aluminum foil bracelets and everything, y'all.)
When you’re little, this is a fun question to answer. We dream big and wide.
When we get a little older, this question becomes terrifying and if we aren’t careful we dream small. Why? Because suddenly we are confronted with the reality of those dreams.
What we want to be and what we want to do with our lives isn’t about just playing dress up anymore. Now, it’s about college choices, tuition payments, student loans, making our parents proud, and being able to pay our bills and buy a house and live comfortably. (Woah! That escalated quickly.)
When we are little we can answer the "grow up" question and if we aren’t happy with our choice a few minutes later we just change our minds and skip away in blissful innocence. When we are in high school or college, we can’t just change our minds, not without consequences.
But what if we choose wrong? What if we pick the wrong college, or major, or relationship? We can’t just skip away from those choices, we will have to pay for them. Making those big, life-defining choices can be scary. Here’s some help to be brave.
1. Understand that taking risks is part of life
We want life to be safe and easy and comfortable. We want to know the outcome. We want to feel like everything is going to work out, but sometimes you can’t know that. Maybe that doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it’s true. Inherent in walking by faith is taking risks. Faith is not seeing but hoping, right?
Risks don’t have to be so scary. They can be calculated. Take smart risks. What’s a smart risk? It’s one that you’ve done your homework on. It’s a risk that you’ve thought about, prayed about and have deemed worth it. It’s following your heart but taking your head with you. After all, God has given you passions and purpose and living in those is what will fulfill you even if it doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee.
2. Realize that failure isn’t final
Getting a big red “F” on the top of an assignment never feels good. Putting your time and energy into an endeavor for it to bomb isn’t at the top of any of our to-do lists. None of us wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, know what sounds like fun today? Failing!” Nope, failure isn’t something that anyone wants but fearing it can actually cause problems. Too often if we think we will fail at something we won’t even try.
But failure isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. The worst thing is never trying and missing out on potential success. I’m not saying be cool with failing and therefore don’t give it all you’ve got. What I’m saying is don’t miss out on a really good thing because you might fail. And if you do fail, don’t give up, learn. Failure can be beneficial when we are receptive to the lessons it wants to teach us. If you fail at an attempt but you learn from it then you haven’t really failed at all.
3. Know where you are going
You can’t make forward progress in the right direction without knowing what that direction is. We can’t just wander through life and hope for the best. Find your focus, discover where God wants you to go and what He wants you to do.
If you don’t know what that way is yet, follow Jesus. Sometimes we don’t get answers to the big, life-defining questions when we want them. Don’t make up your own answers. Instead, focus on being obedient to Christ in the little, daily choices. Working the obedience muscle in the small things will open your heart to know the answers in the big things. After all, God doesn’t just have a plan for your life, He has a plan for your day. Working the daily plan will help you discover the life plan.
Growing up can be scary. The pressure and weight of all those big, life-defining choices can make us feel defeated before we even get started. Don’t let fear make the choices for you. A very intentional and strategic God created you with purpose. He wants you to discover and live for that purpose on purpose. Be intentional in your choices. Learn from mistakes so that you aren’t doomed to repeat them. Walk with God daily so He can lead your life. You, dear one, are chosen for awesome things. Don’t let the scary rob you of the awesome.
Tabitha Caplinger is a wife, mom, and youth pastor and author of YA trilogy, The Chronicle of the Three. You can find out more about Tabitha at Tabithacaplinger.com!