“The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
It’s January, time for new year’s resolutions and fresh starts. New goals. New plans.
I feel a metaphor coming on.
When I use my GPS to help me get somewhere, I not only have to set a destination, but I have to set my current location.
I don’t know about you, but in life, when I set a goal, I don’t intuitively take an honest, objective look at my current situation. Intellectually, I know that when I want to “go somewhere,” I need to have a clear and realistic understanding of where I am now, before I start trying to figure out how I’m going to get where I’m going. I wish I could say I always take stock of my current situation before I start.
When I STOP and pray about a goal,
when I ask God to show me if the goal is in line with His Word and if it’s a goal He even wants me to pursue,
when I ask for His guidance on how to achieve it,
when I ask Him to show me who and what I need to help me,
I see things much more clearly.
When I genuinely pray for Him to help me figure all that out, the Holy Spirit leads me to reflect, not just on my desires and plans, but also on where I am right now.
Sometimes, that means taking a long hard look in the mirror. An HONEST look. I don’t like seeing my weaknesses. They ain’t pretty. But I need to know the truth.
Sometimes God reveals it to me.
Sometimes God uses people to reveal it to me.
Sometimes the truth comes unsolicited and wrapped in emotionally charged language. I can dismiss the words because they were spoken in anger instead of “in love” but when I’m smart (and brave), I strip away the emotion and search the content for nuggets of truth.
Just because feedback is mean, doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth in it.
Sometimes, I need to give people permission to tell me the truth. Friends, acquaintances, experts, strangers…
When the only feedback someone ever gives me is positive, I usually say that person “blow rainbows.” Their feedback loses credibility with me. It’s statistically improbable that I’m great at everything I do.
Sometimes a friend who loves me will take me aside and tell me a hard truth.
Sometimes I need to ask a friend what they think and give them permission – encourage them – to tell me the truth.
Sometimes, I need to pay people. In my life, I’ve paid therapists and voice teachers to tell me the truth.
And then I need to be quiet and listen. Because my knee-jerk reaction is to explain how they are wrong. How they don’t understand. To try and get them to see things from MY point of view – the point of view I had before I asked for the feedback.
Then, I need to process what I hear. Investigate. Search my heart and the circumstances to determine if there’s truth in the feedback. I’m not the most objective person when it comes to evaluating my “current location.”
Are you making new goals? Pray and ask the Lord to show you your current location.
and “Courage, dear heart.”