“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord”
Lately, I’ve been asking myself the same question over and over again… what next? I’m finishing university very soon (my last lecture is on the 23rd March!!!) and, as is the case with almost every final year student, the main question I’m asked lately is “what are you planning to do next?” and the truth is, when it comes to a career, and making money (because, let’s face it, that’s what people mean when they ask what I’ll be doing after I graduate), I just don’t know. I don’t.
I’ve turned this over in my mind so much, do I want to be a journalist? Do I want to pursue a master’s? Do I want to be a writer? A teacher? And honestly… I still don’t know. I’ve let it get to me (big kudos to Matt for carrying me through those times) and I’ve let myself believe for more than a few moments that maybe there’s nothing out there for me, that maybe I’m going to have to work a job that doesn’t excite me, doesn’t fulfil me, doesn’t allow me to be creative or independent or active or expressive…
But you know, every time I’ve gotten to that place where I feel so defeated, where I feel like there’s no purpose, like there’s no way I can influence in the way my heart longs to, there has been some still, small voice of hope that manages to break in and pull me out of that mess of self-depreciation. Something reminds me of a power far above anything I can imagine, a power that is for me and not against me. Sometimes it’s soft, quiet and gentle; a nudge, a suggestion, a passing thought… and still sometimes it’s loud and forceful, blaringly obvious in a way that leaves me in awe of a God who notices and invests in this young girl from Stoke-on-Trent.
No matter how it shows itself, there’s always something there that reignites a spark within me, awakens a desire to create, to write, to follow my heart and my happiness. I don’t have a clue how or even if this will make me any money, or what it will look like, or how it can even answer the question “what do you want to do after uni?”, but whenever I start to give up on the desires of my heart, God seems to place my mind back upon them, over and over and over again. Now I know, I don’t really need an answer to “what’s next?”, not right now. I need to let go and take those terrifying steps into the dark, into the unknown, and sit back, let go of the reigns of my life and allow myself to simply observe whilst God unfolds my future.
Practically, when I say I don’t know, the response is often along the lines of “you’ve got no idea at all? You don’t have any back up plans or anything?” which is fair enough, we all have to make money to do things like, you know, eat and have shelter. But I kind of never lost that mind-set of pursuing joy and happiness that I had when I was younger. When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I’d say I want to be an artist, a writer, an astronaut, a superhero, a zoologist, a movie star, a housewife, a stay-at-home-mum, I’d say I want to travel, make music, paint, draw, sing, dance, be happy. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I didn’t think about how much money it would make me, or even think about having the same career for the rest of my life, and I still can’t really see that for myself.
Of course, I need to make money, we all do, and I’m not trivialising that! I’ll need to do something that means I can survive and provide for my family. But still, I don’t think that I need to have a single career goal in mind, or to be driven by making money, or even imagine that whatever I do next will be the thing I do forever. I don’t quite think that’s what will make life feel fulfilled and satisfying. I’d so much rather be in a position where I’m completely open to what God brings my way, in a position to have a heart open to being pulled towards wherever it is that my soul is directed.
I truly believe that opening our lives up fully to God means living a lifestyle that’s open to changing and growing and moving and doing new things and old things and not always (in fact, rarely!!) knowing what will come next. Which is absolutely terrifying. Oftentimes, I find myself so scared to ask God to make a way for me, because what if the answer that comes back is ‘no’? I don’t want to ask God for the desires of my heart, because if He says no, I’ll be crushed.
I realised lately, though, that I’d been approaching this from a place of fear, from a place of embracing my own personal inadequacy, but in the wake of this, failing to embrace the complete competency of God. My heart’s desire is to pursue God, to share His love, to be a light in the darkness, to be a voice of hope and mercy and forgiveness amidst a world of silence, struggle, and judgement. When I’m reading God’s word, when I’m in communication with God, the desires of my heart will be the desires of His. What I long to do, what I love to do, those things will be desires of mine because God has put them on my heart. When we ask God to fill us, He fills us. Our God is a generous God. A God “who gives generously to all without reproach”. There’s no need to be afraid about God saying no to the desires that He has placed on your heart, He will make a way for you. Your talents were gifts from Him, and you have desires to nurture them, to grow them, and to use them, because God gave them to you and wants you to use them.
What I’ve realised is, there’s no need to be sure of what I want to do in a few month’s time, and there’s no need to worry about God not allowing me to pursue my talents and my interests and my joys, because God is for us, God is generous, and God has gifted me my talents, which means I have them for a purpose, I have them to use them, to nurture and grow them and to allow them to flow out of me. I think, as long as I’m keeping God at the centre of what I’m doing, as long as my creations are for Him, as long as I love, as long as I protect and care for and build up everyone my life touches, as long as I do all that I’m doing to bring glory to God, I cannot fail.
So, yeah, I’m still scared. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing when I’ve finished my degree. Heck, I don’t even know if I’m ever going to actually need my degree. But I do know that whatever it is my heart feels pulled towards, whatever makes my soul ache with joy, that’s where I’ll be. I’m choosing to follow an almighty, all knowing, all loving God, so I’m okay with not knowing, and I’m okay with not being ‘good enough’, and I’m more than okay with allowing Him to love through me. I don’t know what I’ll be doing, but I’m glad that I’ll be doing it, and I know that through it all, God’s got my back, my feet, my heart, my head, my everything in His hands.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”