Go ahead, ruin your life
by Allison Vesterfelt, The Storyline Blog
For much of my life, when it came time to make a decision about anything, I felt virtually paralyzed by fear of making the “wrong” choice. When I had to choose a college, or a job to take or not take, a city to live in, or even a car to drive, I always wanted to do all the research, talk to everyone I knew and discover all the possible pitfalls before I chose.
I have to admit, I hesitated to make a choice at all if I didn’t feel absolutely certain I knew it was the “right” choice.
THEN, A FEW YEARS AGO, ALL OF THAT CHANGED.
I was working part time as a barista, writing a little bit on the side and working on a book idea about a trip I had taken to all 50 states. I had quit my full-time job with the intention of writing this book, but since supporting myself as an author proved to be more difficult than I expected, I picked up a part-time job to supplement my income.
And while I expected to hate serving coffee, I became surprisingly attached to my friends and my time there. It wasn’t perfect, obviously, but I enjoyed it and began to settle into a rhythm.
THEN, WHEN I LEAST EXPECTED IT, I FELT GOD URGING ME TO QUIT.
It didn’t make any practical sense to me. I hadn’t suddenly come into a bunch of money, or stumbled across any big projects that promised to sustain me as a writer. There wasn’t any fanfare or drama, or anything forcing me to pull the trigger. There was just a quiet assurance, a pit-in-my gut feeling that it was time.
This is the time? I wanted to ask God. Why now?
I wanted to quit, kind of. I wanted to take the step, if this was the “right” step to take, if this was going to move me forward in my career as a writer. But what guarantee did I have that this was the case? What if this wasn’t the right choice at all? In fact, what if I was hearing things all wrong?
Just as I was starting to get roped into my usual process of obsessing, I felt this tiny, silent voice deep inside of me say:
“Go ahead, ruin your life. I dare you.”
I’m not sure if it was God, but it certainly seemed like it was. It seemed like it had to be someone who knew me well enough to know what was happening inside of me; someone who knew I was obsessing over “right” decisions and “wrong” ones, and that it wasn’t doing me any good.
I’ve made some bad decisions in my life, and I’ve lived the consequences for them. I drank too much in college, and have the scars to prove it. I made tons of unhealthy sexual choices (which was, by the way, not unrelated to the drinking too much) and surprise, surprise, those bad patterns have impacted my marriage. And there was this one haircut in my early twenties that tops the charts for poor life choices.
But so far, I haven’t ruined my life.
IN FACT, GOD HAS TAKEN EVEN MY WORST DECISIONS AND USED THEM FOR HIS GOOD.
So when it came to quitting my job as a barista, I decided I was tired of living my life dictated by a fear of doing the wrong thing. I was tired of stalling, tired of waiting, tired of obsessing and staying stuck. I wasn’t going to do it anymore. So I quit. And less than one year after I quit, I published my first book.
I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a wrong decision, or that my decision to quit my job was even “right.” I’m saying it’s often hard to measure “right” decisions and “wrong” ones, because I can’t see the whole story from where I’m standing right now, and because I can’t even begin to fathom the depth and breadth and richness of God’s grace.
So I’m not going to live trapped by fear of the “wrong” decision anymore. I’m not going to worry about ruining my life. My eyes, my ears, and my discernment may fail me at times, but if I’m living in honest pursuit of Truth, I believe I’ll find it.