I get lost easily. In fact, the first trip my husband and I ever took together, I got us lost not once, but TWICE. I’m known to be staring at the map and still head south instead of north because it just “seemed right.” Luckily, I have a phone with GPS that gives me turn by turn guidance and 99% of the time, I get to where I need to be.
But I admit, relying on my GPS puts me on autopilot and not engaging more reliable ways of discerning the right way for me personally. It’s tempting to turn my life over to the most efficient route, but it often leaves me in a familiar place. Lost.
Do you ever feel that you have a deep sense of knowing the path God is nudging you to take, but looking elsewhere feels easier? Safer? Me, too. But why?
Think of a decision you are trying to make. Now, we can play that out going outward, inward and upward:
Society teaches us to turn outward and seek experts for answers. Just like my GPS, I tend to believe that the “right” direction lives outside myself and that everyone else has it figured out and can give me the right next steps. But, I’ve learned the hard way when I solely rely on this strategy, the right decision doesn’t play out. Facts are important and the truth reveals, however, I have to work to be sure that I’m looking I’m considering my own desires and not simply defaulting to the route “everyone” else suggests.
Outward: What do the facts reveal? What external wisdom can serve as a helpful guidepost?
As we evolve, we learn to turn inward and listen to our own bodies and instincts. I can’t tell you how many times I had medical issues during significant times of life stress. My body was sending me signals, but my brain was too busy stifling those gut-led directions because it wanted only the logic of facts and outside advice. A startling fact I learned in life coach training by Martha Beck, is that the body processes information at 11 million bits per second. It “knows” information quicker than the mind, which processes at 40 bits per second. I’ve been taught now to play the decision ahead in your mind and scan the body. If it delivers uneasy sensations in your body, slow down and trust signals are telling you that you may not be headed toward your True North.
Inward: What do the signals of your body say? Place yourself living out the results of either decision - Do the signals feel good/peaceful? Or do they send shocks of real fear or panic?
Our most spiritually evolved selves learn to turn upward - to see the wisdom that guides our hearts and minds. When I’m feeling left in the wilderness from the battle my brain and body are playing out, turning upward helps me navigate the crossroads. When I play out a decision, if I sense confused, chaotic signals in my body, this decision is not of God. Peace of mind and spirit is what God has left us (John 14:27). Knowing this is life-changing because many times the way the Spirit is leading me is counterintuitive to the advice the world would give. More signals that you are led by the Spirit include feeling guided, gentle, peaceful and patient. There is grace for learning. Contrast that with characteristics of being led by the world’s list - urgent, black/white, now or never, and impatient. There is no room for mistakes.
Upward: What does the Spirit say? Play out the decision. Does it feel of chaos? Or does it feel of peace?
How do we know the best way to turn?
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace,” 1 Corinthians 14:33a (ESV)
I need to choose the best direction with all parts of the body working together. I need to “put my whole self in” as the Hokey Pokey dance would sing! It doesnt eliminate feeling terrified of the unknown, but ensures my compass is tuned to God’s navigation.
One of the hardest turns to make is to not keep choosing the wrong direction simply because we’ve been spending a chunk of our life heading that way. I heard once that many times we stay put in stressful situations because the chaos we have come to know feels safer than stepping into the unknown. It gives me comfort to remember that we don’t have to write our entire new roadmap in one day. Thank goodness.
One choice, one step. Just take it step by step, friends.
“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” Jeremiah 33:3 NLT
Prayer: Lord, help me to consult You first at my crossroads. Let me lay down my need for other’s assurance and self-made directions that will only lead me to chaos, not peace. Help me to trust and choose your way to my True North.