If you’re wrestling with a decision and plagued by a fear of missing—or messing up—God’s will, here are four actions that can help you find peace:
“I’m terrified I’m going to make the wrong decision and step out of God’s plan,” my friend said. She was at a crossroads in life, and with several attractive and seemingly worthy options before her, she was experiencing a lot of anxiety over which direction to go.
I empathized with her struggle. Like her, I want to do God’s will, and there have been many times I’ve worried that I would choose the wrong thing and “mess things up.” Some of my decision-related fears have bordered on the ridiculous: What if I cut my hair and the guy I like thinks my new haircut is unattractive and, because of that, decides not to date me? What if I buy this car, but it’s not the car God wants me to have, and something goes wrong and I get in an accident?
Other fears have been more realistic: What if I transfer colleges and end up missing out on some great experiences and relationships? What if I leave this job, but it’s actually where God wants me to be and I end up inadvertently withholding help from people who really need it?
It’s good to take major life decisions seriously, but whether our decision has to do with buying a car, choosing a college, or deciding whom to marry, God doesn’t want us to be stressed out. His yoke is meant to be easy and His burden light, even when it comes to making decisions. If you’re wrestling with a decision and plagued by a fear of missing—or messing up—God’s will, here are four actions that can help you find peace:
1. Meditate on God's Promises
In 2 Timothy 1:7, the apostle Paul tells us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). When we feel fear about anything—including a decision—it’s important for us to recognize that that fear is not from God. Rather, it’s the enemy’s attempt to distract and derail us from God’s plan.
The devil wants us to be afraid because he knows that fear inhibits our ability to make good choices. However, when our hearts are at peace, they are in the perfect posture to discern God’s still small voice leading and guiding us.
One of the best ways to fight fear and bring our hearts into a place of peace is to remember God’s promises, and when it comes to decision-making, His promises to guide us are particularly reassuring.
Consider these verses:
“He [God] is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die” (Psalm 48:14, NLT).
“Seek his [God’s] will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take" (Proverbs 3:6, NLT).
“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring” (Isaiah 58:11, NLT).
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13, NLT).
As you contemplate your decision, take some time to meditate on the truths found in these and any other Scriptures God highlights for you. Then, lay your fear at Jesus’ feet. Tell Him that you trust Him, thank Him for guiding you, and take comfort knowing that, in Him, you have the best counselor in the world available to you 24-7!
2. Give Yourself Time
When I’m facing a choice, especially a big one, I often feel an urge to decide as quickly as possible. I want to eliminate the psychological pain of uncertainty and know what’s going to happen next.
Yet, I find that when I give myself time and don’t let discomfort bully me into a premature decision, I’m more likely to be happy with the decision I make and less prone to regret it. I’m more likely to recognize the right path when I’m relaxed and not rushed.
The truth is, most decisions don’t have to be made immediately. So, give yourself permission to take a few days, weeks, or even months to decide. Pray, think things over, and get some wise advice before making a final decision. Simply remembering that, sometimes, discerning the right thing just takes time goes a long way towards helping me accept the process and recover my peace.
3. Trust That God Will Correct Your Course
While anxiety can sometimes cause us to rush to make a quick decision, on the other hand, if we’re not careful, fear can paralyze us and prevent us from moving forward at all. We can become so afraid of doing the “wrong thing” that we end up doing nothing. But here’s a truth that really helps me when I find myself stalling: If we’re truly seeking God and doing our best to follow Him, He will correct our course if we start heading in a direction that is not His best.
One of my favorite examples of God’s course correction is found in Acts 16. Here, we learn that when the apostle Paul and his fellow missionaries attempted to enter Bithynia with the intention of preaching the gospel there, “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” (Acts 16:7, NIV).
Paul and his teammates were doing their best to accomplish the mission God had sent them on, and they had decided that Bithynia was a good place to visit. However, this decision was not what God wanted for them, and while we’re not told how this correction was communicated, the Spirit of Jesus somehow made it clear to them that they needed to adjust their plans.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to take a step or two in the direction that seems best, all while listening intently for God’s guidance. If it’s the right direction, we can trust that He will provide affirmation. If it’s the wrong direction, we can trust that He will instruct us on any adjustments we need to make.
4. Focus on the Process, Not Perfection
When we’re in the midst of the decision-making process, it’s easy to become hyper-focused on making the right choice. But I believe that the process itself often matters more than the outcome. God is more concerned about being with us in the midst of our messy deliberations than He is in our performance as decision-makers, and every decision is an opportunity to grow in our intimacy with Him. In our wrestling, we recognize and acknowledge our utter dependence on Him to know what to do and how to be in this world. In our struggle, we lean upon our Beloved.
The ultimate point of our existence is to be in a personal relationship with God—to experience His love and love Him in return. As we draw near to God through the process of decision-making, we are walking out our purpose on the most basic level.
God Is Always with You
One of the most beautiful Scripture passages about God’s guidance is found in Psalm 139, where David declares:
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139:7b-12, NIV).
If, like my friend, you’re at a crossroads and worried about choosing the right direction, remember: God is with you. He sees every detail of your life, and nothing is hidden from His sight. Even if you decide to go in a direction that is the complete opposite of what He intended, if you keep your heart open to Him, His hand will guide you and hold you fast. Nothing can separate you from God’s love—including a wrong decision. He promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him, and you can relax knowing that He’s got you (Romans 8:28, NIV)!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Carina Alanson is a former professional counselor turned writer, editor, and course creator who is passionate about helping women live with purpose and grow in their relationship with God. She lives in the subarctic town of Fairbanks, Alaska, where she enjoys scenic drives with her husband, snowshoeing, and reading by the fire. To connect with Carina and find resources for purposeful living, visit carinaalanson.com or find her on Instagram @carinaalanson.