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Making Choices

Emily Dean

We will always be bombarded with choice. We live in times of great opportunity which can be both exciting and completely overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean everything that comes our way is for us and necessary and good.

We’re bombarded with them daily. Some look shiny and exciting while others make us want to crawl under the covers and never come out. Some look real perfect from the outside, they fit our gifts, talents & past experiences -- everyone around us assumes it’s a sure thing. And yet inside we’re nervous and anxious, something feels wrong but we aren’t sure how to speak up.

I’m talking new opportunities and making decisions. Can you relate? The grueling process of deciding if something is right for us right now. And the uncomfortable part of giving a firm yes or no.

I remember in my early twenties feeling like every opportunity was good. And each one seemed possible because I had nothing holding me back. There was no one stopping me from moving across country, taking a job in the city, or saving my pennies to travel the world.

Every turn seemed like the right one. And this was the place I’d panic because it felt like standing in the middle of a busy intersection when the lanes split, and you have to choose which way to go. My natural tendency was to stand motionless, afraid of making any choice for fear that’d it be the wrong one. I’d cry out for a map, anything to give me a glimpse into my life and how it’d all shake out so I wouldn’t make the wrong move.

I so badly wanted to be in the right place at the right time that I didn’t fully live anywhere. I’d make a choice and yet dream of what else could be. I’d live in one place and ache to move to another.

As I’ve gotten older, the restlessness has subsided. Sure I dream of other places and worry when life starts to feel “too comfortable” but typically I’m grateful and satisfied. (This is only possible through lots of prayer & rich community.)

But when it comes to making decisions and choosing what to do and when to do it? This one still plagues me. I have a tendency to offer an exuberant “YES” without thinking it through. Because deep down I fear I could miss something really good. And what if the good thing never comes back? What if I miss my one and only chance?

What if my no closes the door to other opportunities that could have come my way?

Can I be really honest here? Lean in close. It will, it might, it could.

Our no’s might change our course, it could mean missing out on good things. But it might also make room for better things. Often a no carves out margin for a yes that’s on it’s way. We just had to be patient and believe it was coming. We have to trust our gut and know that just because we feel regret and pain over walking away, doesn’t mean we made the wrong choice.

A no is brave and obedient. It requires depth and heart and grit. It takes wisdom and maturity and time.

We should be proud of our no’s as they inch us closer and closer to who we really are and hope to be, rather than masquerading around as someone else. And how beautiful this world would be if each one us embraced who we really are and lived fully inside that place.

When we least expect it, something else will come our way. A better fit. An new opportunity. A fresh start. Something we didn’t know was there but was waiting for us all along.

I know this because I’ve lived it.

Almost a year ago, I left my dream job. I worked really hard to get it, only to resign a few months later. All because I heard God calling me to write and be available for people. That’s it. Nothing glamorous about it. I see former coworkers going on exciting trips, gathering together, and attending conferences and I'd be lying if I said it didn’t sting a little.

I have my days where I wonder -- did I make the wrong choice?

But then I take a step back and take inventory of my life right now. The one I’ve been slowing building over the last eight months. And only when I get real quiet and hide all distractions, when I quit comparing my beginning to someone else's middle, I feel really proud. There’s no book with my name on it (yet) but there’s a woman who made the leap, without knowing how it all would end.

There’s a person who closed one chapter to make room for another. Someone who said yes to something else -- the longings on her heart, the desires she’s hushed for so many years.

And now, even if nothing comes of this decision, even if my victories remain small, to me it’ll be worth it.  Because I’ll never have to ask myself, what if? That questions stings more than walking away from something good.

So here’s my question for you friend: what if you gave yourself permission to leap without holding a map? What if you decided that today your dreams were important as opposed to putting them off until tomorrow? What if you said yes to choosing yourself and believed in the thing you’re building, no matter how small it is?

We will always be bombarded with choice. We live in times of great opportunity which can be both exciting and completely overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean everything that comes our way is for us and necessary and good.

It’s okay to let things pass us by.

It’s okay to trust this moment right here and now, in all its uncertainty and discomfort. It’s okay to feel a little unsure of what’s to come. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay if it stings. Because trust me when I say, it’ll be worth it. A yes is waiting around the corner with your name on it. It might take longer than you hoped to find but when it comes you’ll be ready. You’ll know it’s for you. And you’ll grab hold of it tight and never let go.

Article by Maeve Gerboth | Photography by Hilary Hyland