I’ve accepted that knowing God’s will for my life isn’t that difficult. I understand that there isn’t some predetermined path I’m supposed to take and my life isn’t going to implode upon itself if I happen to make a choice that deviates from “the plan.” I’ve accepted that I have a lot of responsibility to choose what I will do with my life, and the freedom to decide what I want my aim in life to be.
The problem now is I’m looking around at what I could do and have no idea what options I should pick to start pursuing.
I’m currently reading a book by Kevin DeYoung called “Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will.” I’ve found myself reaching the same conclusion about God’s will that DeYoung describes in his book: God’s will is really not that complicated, so let’s stop being afraid about getting it wrong and just do something.
In the chapter I’m reading now, DeYoung encapsulates in a paragraph the problem I’m presently stuck working through. He is speaking specifically about college students here, but I think it really applies to any young adult:
“[They] have multiple interests and capabilities. They have gobs of talent and opportunities. The world is wide open to them. But instead of reveling in this freedom, most find it agonizing. They are forced to navigate between competing interests: making money and making a difference, challenging their minds and channeling their creativity, focusing on a career and leaving time for a family, settling down now and traveling abroad for a while, starting a career and trying another internship, living in a bustling city and resting in a pastoral location, going to work right away and going on for more schooling.” (p. 33)
I’m definitely feeling stuck trying to navigate through the kinds of choices DeYoung outlined above. But the main message of DeYoung’s book is to stop using waiting on God’s will as an excuse to be indecisive and passive. I will be the first to admit I am an indecisive person, and rather than make decisions for myself, I will gladly let others shape my decisions for me. Now as a young graduate who understands there’s no mystical plan I have to figure out, I’m asking myself hard questions about what I want to do with my life and how to start taking steps forward.
So, what do I want to do? Here’s my list I’ve complied so far.
To stay in my hometown, or at least the general region where I grew up. Virtually all my family lives here, and I know proximity to my family is something that’s really important to me.
To work at a job I am competent at. For a while I was set on finding a job that either directly utilized my degree or connected with one of my passions (which sounds nice, assuming I actually knew what my passions were). There are so many factors to consider in job searching though—skills, passions, work/family balance, income, flexibility of schedule, etc. I know there is no job that perfectly balances all these factors, so I’ve been thinking hard about what factors are truly most important to me. At this point, I think I could tolerate working at a job that may not be the most exciting or related to my top interests, so long as I am capable of doing the job and doing the job well.
A job, not a career. I am a homebody who loves nothing more than spending time surrounded by the people who matter to me most. My ideal evening wouldn’t look like putting in a few extra hours in a cubicle or home office. It looks like leaving work and coming home to play video games with family, or going out to a movie with friends. The idea of climbing a career ladder does not hold much interest for me, although maybe with more time and experience my thoughts on this will change.
Put down roots in my local community. Up until a few months ago, I lived with the expectation that it would only be a matter of time before I up and moved away from my hometown. Now that I’ve let go of that expectation and accepted this is where I want to be, I want to own my choice and start putting down roots here. I’m still figuring out the details, but so far this looks like keeping my job search local, signing up to serve at church, committing to attend a Christian small group, and finding ways to give back to my community.
In thinking about the kind of life I want to live, I’m reminded of a movie I watched the other day on Netflix. Amélie is French film about a shy, quirky young woman who lives a simple life in Paris. Although there is nothing extraordinary about her, Amélie ends up changing the world, but not in a grand, earth-shaking kind of way. She changes the small world around her by finding ways to intentionally impact the lives of her neighbors. What I love is that she doesn’t do it sitting behind a desk at her dream job. Instead, she does it at the small café where she works as a waitress, on trips to her childhood home to visit her widowed father, in the apartment complex she lives in where she bumps into other eccentric tenants, and while traveling about the bustling city. And in the process of trying to touch everyone else’s lives around her, Amélie finds meaning and fulfillment in her own life, too.
In a lot of ways, I find myself drawn to the kind of life like Amélie embodied—simple yet special, relational, and meaningful. Where you pursue the things that are worthwhile to you and bring you joy, whether or not they fit the typical mold the rest of society says will make you happy. I guess I just realize that what I think I want for my life isn’t what I originally had in mind, and doesn’t quite fit the picture society typically portrays.
For anyone reading this post that would like to share, what has your experience been of figuring out what you want to do? I’d love to hear some stories of what this has looked like for others out there.