Yesterday I was listening to a friend air her concerns about the guy she was seeing. “Do I really like him though? Do I want to make this official?” she asked. We laughed as I told her she is too old for commitment issues (I shoot from the hip), but I did have empathy.
My friend wanted me, or anyone, to tell her the answers regarding her love life. And all I could tell her was “only you can answer these questions because this is your life”. She probably knows the answers already, but doesn’t realise it because her mind is swimming with a million other anxious and afraid thoughts. On top of that are the host of well-meaning voices that have told her what to do, making a lot of noise.
I know what it’s like, because for a long time I spent every day in her shoes.
I have always been very impressionable but it used to be a lot worse. I would look to everyone else for the answers. To anything, from whether I should put salt in my cooking to the suitability of the man I was dating. I never thought I knew anything or that I could come to a conclusion by myself. I definitely didn’t think I was intelligent and so I took most things at face value. I didn’t question, I just assumed what I heard was correct because, in my eyes, I didn’t know any better.
In difficult times I would ask people what to do, or I would read books, blogs or devotionals on the subject. I even went to counsellors so that they could tell me the answers (they never did). I lived my life according to the opinions and judgments of other people. Even good voices with good intentions would clash and I would wind up saying “but X said this and Y said this, so now I really don’t know what do!”
I did not own my life or my mind simply because I thought I didn’t know the answer, and everyone else did. How wrong I was.
As Christians, we are taught to give up our lives to God and submit to His will. For a long time I misinterpreted that to mean my life was God’s and not my own, and many would argue that this is a correct interpretation. But I believe to give something up we have to own it in the first place. So to give my life up to God’s will, it had to be mine to give away. And many times God trusts us to make a decision based on our own wisdom, experience or desire. We ask him and He says “ you’ve got this, I trust you”. If you don’t trust yourself, it makes those decisions really hard.
I remember the day I took my life into my own hands like it was yesterday. It happened while I was cooking ready-made pizza in the oven. Sometimes the most profound moments can exist within the most mundane ones.
My friend Hayley was over at my house, and she’s a good cook. She knows her stuff when it comes to the kitchen, and I barely know how to cook eggs. I came out to the lounge and said “Hayley, can you check if these pizzas are cooked?” She looked at me and said coolly, “You know if they are ready. You need to trust your own judgement more often”.
And there it was; the truth in one clean sentence. A flippant response from her was a ground breaking revelation to me. I stared at her, and said “You’re so right! Oh my gosh, you’re right”.
We both knew this was about more than pizza.
From that moment, I knew I had to decide everything else for my life too. To do that, I needed to learn to trust myself and my judgement, and to give myself some credit and acknowledgement for being an intelligent human being. I had to stop listening to everyone else and find my own voice, because the constant chatter of friends, family, the media and society was wearing me out.
I stopped asking people and most of them stopped telling me. They didn’t want to be in charge of my life, anyway. Since then, I have made many decisions by myself. Sometimes God says “your call” and I say okay. When He says “my call, I’ve got this”, I say perfect. I still ask wise people if I am unsure, as accountability and discussion is important. But ultimately, I own my life and live out the repercussions every day, and I think this is just as it should be.
There are many people who struggle to make decisions, teetering on the edge because they afraid to make the wrong decision. You could be one of them. I encourage you to make a stand and own your life. Trust yourself! If you’re not sure whether to take that job, go out with that guy or girl, or even just a little hesitant to take the pizza out of the oven too soon, quit being so afraid. You never know what will happen, and if it goes wrong, you will only learn from it.
You’re smarter than you think, I know it and it’s time you did too.
Do you recognise yourself in my words? What have you struggled to decide and asked other people to answer for you?