one school of thought is to take this time to "listen to my life," to rest from jumping through hoops and discover where my passions and interests truly lie. the idea here is to get to know yourself, to stop thinking about what you "should" be doing and instead take time to rest and decipher what you truly find fulfilling. i think the undercurrent of such advice is the belief that God intentionally designed us for particular tasks and ministries, and listening to our lives will reveal this design to us more clearly, allowing us to pursue truly fulfilling work. when i hear advice along these lines, it seems refreshing and freeing. i'm curious about what i'd discover about myself if i allowed a fallow season in my life, so to speak.
the other category of advice i've been receiving reminds me that God's way involves sacrifice and the death of our own wills. his path is narrow. following Jesus doesn't mean Jesus just blesses whatever you decide will make you happy. sometimes you are required to give things up. sometimes God asks you to stop holding areas of your life back, because God desires full surrender. and surprisingly, this category of advice also feels freeing to me. i think of the words of Jesus in matthew 10:39:
"If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it."and so i truly believe that insisting upon my own way of things all the time is really just slavery to pressures, sin and brokenness. i believe finding God's calling in my life, even if it requires surrender of things i really desire, will ultimately result in me living a life of freedom and purpose--even if it looks weak and foolish to the world. i don't want to live like an empty shell because i ignored God's voice.
so how do i find direction for my life? do i listen to my own passions? do i find what makes me truly glad? do i pray and wait for a sign? do i choose things that make sense to my head even if i don't really enjoy them? how do i discern between sacrifice and ignoring my true calling? is a balance required between these two perspectives to find where i'm really supposed to be? are both valid and important considerations? do they really mean the same thing?