(Photo source: Baim Hanif via Unsplash.com)

(Photo source: Baim Hanif via Unsplash.com)

One of the greatest challenges I encountered post college was the suddenness of having to make seemingly “life-altering” choices for myself—unique choices that nobody was going to make for me.

They were choices that didn’t come on a 4-year plan or with guaranteed happiness, choices without gold stars and applause, choices that might give you more than you ever imagined or might cost you everything.

Unfortunately, these choices don’t have a manual.

Even when you avoid making a choice, you are making a choice. Probably a bad one.

You can seek and receive advice, read up and listen in, pray for guidance—and all these things surely help. But your choices are uniquely yours. And spoiler alert: even when you avoid making a choice, you are making a choice. Probably a bad one.

So in order to really develop our true identities and giftings, we have to learn to face the unknown and make choices that don’t fit inside the formulas and “right-or-wrong” mentality we’re taught to cling to as children. This learning process ends up looking like the rest of our adult lives.

Just think about how you grew up.

To be fair, I don’t know your schooling background. I have a friend whose kid is in a private school in Portland where they do awesome things like meditate and collect gems for a “kindness castle” and a bunch of other magical stuff.

Not my experience. I grew up state-funded-get-on-the-bus-kid public schooled. And I liked it that way, for the most part.

But I wasn’t taught much about the benefits of risks, while I was taught a lot about safety. I was rarely encouraged to find my own solutions but expected to devote countless hours memorizing context-based formulas so I would “perform” well. I went through most of my high school years signing up and showing up for things that I thought would secure my future.

Good things come to those who wait.

That’s what I thought. Perform well and wait for good things, a good college, a good job, a good community, a good man to choose you. But the closer I got to the real world, the more I realized this was not always the case. And how quickly this way of thinking would lead me down a path of restlessness rather than discovering my unique identity and leveraging my gifts.

I saw a man who created the community he desired.

I could either sit around waiting for merited opportunities and relationships, or I could cultivate them. And when I looked to Jesus for guidance, I saw a man who made choices. I saw a man that confidently and creatively pursued his passions. I saw a man who created the community he desired. I saw a man who entrusted every decision to God and changed the world because of it.

So these days I believe something different.

Good things come to those who choose.

You can’t ever throw a touchdown pass if you’re only focused on the defensive backs. If you try something while trusting God, you may not get exactly what you wanted but you’ll still get more of Him.

And when I think about it, that’s all I really want. I’m finding I would rather live a life pursuing what I love with God rather than wondering when or if things will happen for me. The latter gets me nowhere, while the former allows me to experience a journey of purpose, beauty and grace.

Let’s be choice-makers and put more of our “what ifs” to the test.

This blog post originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission.