More than once I’ve typed in the phrase “what to do when you don’t know what to do” into the Google search box, hoping for just-right advice to move me out of the stuck place that has its unrelenting grip on me.
When I’m in that place, it feels as if I’m caught in a Chinese finger trap. The harder I try to move forward by making a decision, the more resistance I encounter, usually within myself. I get nowhere. With each passing moment, I feel more trapped by indecision and anxiety.
It seems to me that there is one answer with two paths.
Acceptance is the answer. If I’m feeling stuck, I benefit from accepting the feelings and situations that create the urgency for action, even if I don’t know what steps to take. The more I resist the unpleasant feelings and thoughts that are along for the party, the greater my sense of panic, which only feeds the negative cycle.
Acceptance is the doorway that leads to two choices: I can either do nothing or take the next right step by doing whatever is before me.
Doing nothing is something and it’s a countercultural path. I find it challenging to get very quiet and wait for the answer to emerge from within and from God’s guidance. Sometimes the wait is uncomfortably long. It does no good to fight against the panic and pain. Acceptance of these emotions is necessary. They’ll leave in short order if you don’t try to shove them out.
The second option is to do something. Do the next right thing or some small action that moves you along no matter how short the incremental advancement may be. Then take the next step, and the next.
When you find yourself asking a lot of people for their opinion about what you should do, that is a good indicator it’s time to get still and listen for your own thoughts and feelings about the matter, and to hear the “still small voice” that might be using the situation to get your attention.
When you feel paralyzed or overwhelmed, taking a small action can break up the emotional log jam. Make it simple, and get it done quickly. Then, when you’ve completed that, take another small, simple step. Fear, indecision, anxiety, and any other feelings will probably follow along for awhile, but eventually they will lose interest and drift away.
Be at peace, no matter what’s before you!
“And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21