“I hate not knowing,” a friend complained as she tried to figure out some steps to take personally and professionally. “I’m used to having a game plan, but right now I feel stuck because I honestly don’t know what the right answer is. I want to plan the next stage of my life—and somehow, I feel like God’s hiding the roadmap from me!”
If you’re anything like me—or most people in the world—you like to know what’s coming next in your life. But how do you handle it when you want an answer and don’t get one? Maybe you’ve been praying for a specific answer about the next phase of your life—about a move you need to make, an important decision, a romantic partner, or another change of some sort. Yet despite the fact that you’ve diligently sought an answer, it simply hasn’t come. It can be a frustrating place, but I invite you to make a shift and try a different approach.
I want you to consider an area of your life for which your vision looks cloudy. You don’t know what you want, or you just don’t know what steps will be essential to take you where you want to go. Over the years I have discovered five lessons to be learned “in the meantime.” The meantime is that waiting period between here and where you are destined to end up.
I’ve often thought I was ready for something and set out to make it happen, only later to discover that there was a great deal of growth and learning that needed to occur first. At other times it wasn’t the growth and learning, but some other circumstances that needed to line up in order for the vision to be fully realized. When you listen to your life, heeding the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, you set yourself up for divine timing and greater rewards than you may previously have imagined.
Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Waiting for your right answer is an exercise in trusting God, and letting go of your attempt to control things. The truth is, we aren’t in control anyway, and we expend a lot of energy trying to prove to ourselves that we are.
Wherever you feel a lack of clarity, consider these five messages that may be presenting themselves to you:
1. No, and wait are legitimate answers.
You regularly hear people say, “God answered my prayer,” meaning they got what they asked for. But “Yes” isn’t the only way God answers prayers. Sometimes He says, “No.” Often He says, “Wait.” All three are legitimate answers.
2. Let go of your need to know.
You can cause yourself a lot of stress by insisting that you always know what’s coming. Relax and enjoy the present. Trust that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
3. Take a small step, then notice what happens.
If you are feeling torn about which direction to take, sometimes the best thing you can do is begin to move in one direction. Notice what happens when you do. Do you feel at peace? Are doors opening easily, or is it a struggle -without purpose? Sometimes taking a small step gives you clarity about whether or not to continue on a particular path.
4. Delve into an area of life you’ve been neglecting.
Often, we can’t have what we think we are ready for because it’s time to address other matters. Until those are addressed, our answer will not come. What have you been avoiding? Consider your waiting period an opportunity to face the things you’ve been able to avoid for a while—nurturing a relationship, taking care of yourself, going back to school, taking control of your finances, or getting your career on track. You know what it is for you. Muster up the courage to address it.
5. Connect with God by talking—and then listening.
James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” As you contemplate a life change, make sure your decisions are rooted firmly in the divine guidance that is available to you when you get quiet to listen.