The other day I was lamenting that I didn’t know exactly what to do next. Sure, I had a general idea about the progress that needed to be made, but I had no certainty about what needed to be done that day to see any steps toward that goal. The lack of certainty created a little paralysis and after a day of shuffling papers, sending emails and questioning whether or not a Netflix binge would be considered progress, I went to bed frustrated.
Have you ever felt like you were facing that dilemma? You know the general direction you are moving, but you aren’t certain about the next move nor do you have any clarity about the timing of what’s next. That tension between progress (the way you want to move) and movement (making steps towards that end) can be paralyzing. And when you’re in that tension, it’s easy to watch mindless hours turn into days, and days soon become weeks and months, and before long you feel like the path you started on is more uncertain than ever.
After a restless night of sleep, I woke up and thought about my situation: What do you do, when you don’t know what to do? Do what you know to do.
So you don’t know exactly what to do next? Start by doing the things you know to do–the actions that are always right no matter what the circumstances. Do the right things when you don’t know what to do, and use that as an opportunity to wait for the path to open up clearly before you.
Don’t know exactly what to do? Here are a few things to do to help you while you wait for clarity:
Be thankful: Paul says to be thankful in all circumstances, so use your down time to practice gratitude. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Pray: In the same passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 where Paul tells us to be thankful, He also tells us to pray frequently. How frequently? Always. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
Surrender worry to the Lord: Times of uncertainty can lead to massive bouts of worry and anxiety. Give those to the Lord. (Philippians 4:6-8, Mathew 6:25-34)
Serve others: When we feel a little lost or uncertain of our path, it can be easy to turn our focus inward. The best plan to get it back on the Lord? Follow our Lord’s advice and serve others! (John 13:12-15)
Be generous: Feel like things are snug during your uncertainty? Trust me, we know the feeling! To help keep your focus off of the scarcity that can develop, be generous with your resources and trust God even more for His provision and guidance. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Read the book: No matter what else is happening, it is always right to spend time reading and memorizing God’s Word. (Psalm 119:9-11). As a side note, this past season I’ve been able to read through the Bible twice in the past year, and I’ve memorized huge sections of Scripture. Reading the Bible is always a good thing.
Love your spouse (family/friends): Again, the inward focus that can arise because of frustration and uncertainty can create relational problems if you aren’t intentional with your community. Create opportunities to intentionally love your spouse or love your children or your friends or your coworkers or the old lady that lives next door. By thinking of practical ways to love others, you are doing the right thing, and moving yourself forward even if it doesn’t feel like it.
There are many more of those good and right actions to take, but these seven should give you a good jump on things. It’s ok to feel stuck and uncertain, but even then, do what you know to do, until you know what to do next.
Go ahead and take plunge, life–even in uncertainty–is always better on the water!