For most, life is like climbing a treacherous mountain with jagged rocks jutting out at you. You feel like each step, each decision, must be calculated with all possible consequences considered before shuffling any weight upon it. Whether the question is,
- Is this the person I should be with?
- Should we move and leave everything we have built for a questionable opportunity for a better life; or stay where we are surrounded by people we know but miss out on a chance for more?
- Should I stay home with the kids or focus more on my work?
- Should I work toward that promotion or change careers completely?
Whenever a fork in our path presents itself, often in the form of “should I stay or should I go,” it is so natural to become overwhelmed by the weight of our choices. We feel as though our entire life might alter by one decision. What if we make the wrong one? What then? Will we be able to scramble back to what we had before and pretend it never happened?
I used to have a type-A personality, but having children has a way of completely altering those personality traits, mainly out of sheer desperation to remain sane. I was changing my “dream-career” from 5th grade on about every few months, I was already thinking about who I wanted to marry in 7th grade (spoiler alert, I married him,) and I was always grasping for a vague understanding of where it is I wanted to be. I laugh looking back because of how often I planned my future, and how often I altered those plans entirely, what time and energy was exhausted in my grasp for control? In reality, we aren’t in control, but our subconscious struggles often with that truth and finds that reality difficult to accept.
As I grew in my relationship with God, I found an immeasurable sense of peace in knowing that God has already carved my path and placed provisions along the way to see me through. He went before me to prepare my way, and yet He walks each step by my side, gently holding my hand so no stone lying in my path may trip me up and lead me astray. As I look back on my past I see He was always there. Even when I was balled up on the floor and contemplating taking my own life, He was the still small voice giving me hope that things would be worth fighting for. The more I grow in my relationship with Him, the more I have peace that everything will be in its time, and if it never comes to be it is because there is something better for me. After all, Jeremiah 29:11 states, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
That is why I no longer depend on my own understanding to weigh upon what choice I am to make, large or small. The prayer that I lean on when I feel lost, when I feel like I fall back into my desperate grasp for control, is:
“Lord, I pray that You shine Your light on just the next step on my path. If I am not supposed to _______ (insert decision in question) I pray that you make it so blatantly obvious that that is not where I am supposed to be. I pray that you slam the door in my face so it is not even in question, let me not stray from the beautiful path you have carved for me out of stone.”
For example, if you aren’t sure if you are supposed to pursue that new position you’ve had your eye on, a slammed door would be never receiving a call back for an interview. I always ask for His guidance to be so blatantly obvious because my brain works in the insane cycle of, “Maybe that wasn’t what it meant? Maybe I am still supposed to go for it? I don’t know, maybe it meant the opposite and I should run as fast as I can in the complete opposite direction?!” The door isn’t cracked open, it is locked. That is not the one lying before me on my path that I am to walk through.
If I could place a giant asterisk (*) next to that prayer, it would link down below it to not-so-miniscule font that says, “Whatever outcome presents itself, the key is to have peace with it. If you never receive a call back from that job, if that relationship suddenly begins to crumble, etc. Take in the news, take a deep breath, then exhale with complete acceptance and peace that that was never meant to be, and there is something far greater that awaits your discovery.”
It is true, life is like a mountain in that we don’t see what lies before us when we take the next step forward. You will not truly see the valley in front of the mountain until you stand upon its peak. We take steps forward of faith, carefully deciding which rock will support our weight as we ascend its rocky cliffside. We can look below at where we have been, but it sheds no light onto where we are going. As shared by many of those who have overcome the life-threatening journey to stand upon Mount Everest, the view is always worth the risk.