Wednesday, January 8, 2014

following my heart

I have never been good at making decisions.  Horribly indecisive, I have been the brunt of many jokes in my family, when it comes to something simple like choosing what to eat on a menu.  I remember being totally completely overwhelmed staring at a bakery menu in a busy downtown Chicago restaurant years ago, and how my sister and her friend thought it was so hilarious and she will still bring it up to this day, how long it took for me to choose what kind of muffin I wanted to eat.

more than just muffins.  bigger decisions are just as hard.  I'm realizing that the problem is, besides being such a complex mess of ADD and OCD at times, I'm also too afraid to follow the choices of my own heart, and mostly like to go with what I think others want for me.  It's easier to let others choose my decisions and paths for me, rather than face the consequences of my own choices.

but not always.  there have been a couple times, I can count them on one hand so far, of when i have made major decisions of my very own, not caring what others thought.  the first was in college, when after my freshman year, i decided i really wanted to pursue dance, and so i transferred to a college that had a big arts department, an excellent dance department where i could practically live in the studio every day and even graduate with a degree in performance, education, therapy, whatever.  the transfer was complicated, going from a college on a trimester schedule to regular semesters and losing a lot of credits in the process, and i had to say goodbye to some very close friends and start all over on a strange new campus, but i was so glad i did!   once i got more and more into my dance classes, i realized i had to make a career out of this somehow, and would need to do more than just take classes for fun, but commit to a credentialed program that would earn me at least a minor in dance education.  that took some (a lot) of convincing regarding my parents.  we never had much money growing up, was only able to attend college because of government assistance and lots of loans, so adding more years to my college career for the sake of something as "fluffy" as dance did not sit well with my very practical, penny-pinching, non-dreamer kind of parents.  i'm pretty sure i put it in writing, my best form of communication, and shared my heart to them how important this was to me, to pursue something i am so passionate about.  they reluctantly agreed.

same thing happened after i graduated.  not sure of where to go, what to do with my teaching degrees in elementary education and dance education, i took some time to really seek the Lord and pray about my decisions.  i even fasted.  (and for me, that was rough, i've always adored food. what about you?)  but i really felt God had a calling on my heart to go into some kind of full-time ministry, and it had always been my heart's desire to go someplace overseas, and especially to a warm place, out of the frigid Wisconsin weather i sadly put up with year after year.  so when i heard of a ministry in the Dominican Republic that needed teachers who were willing to jump out of the boat and into a crazy life of ministry in a third-world country, to minister to the lives of emotionally broken teenagers, i was all there.  my heart was in it.  but how in the world would i convince my parents this was the right thing for me?  in writing, of course.  i really prayed and labored over this letter, trying to choose just the right words to explain why this was so important to me.  why i would put my loans on deferment for 3 years so i could commit to serving in this ministry where i would only be paid a very basic room-and-board stipend and depend on missionary support from others to help me along.  it was hard, and they weren't thrilled, but i had the peace of following my heart.  and that decision still blesses me today.  hugely.

so i'm reminded by these times of decision in my life, that i've got to stop doing what i think others want me to do, to stop waiting around for someone to tell me what to choose, and start listening to my heart.  i may not always like some of the consequences of my decisions, but where God starts fires and puts dreams in my heart, those dreams don't go away.  I can convince my mind for awhile, about what is the "smart" thing to do, and yes, there's wisdom in that, and in listening to others' advice, of course.  but the final decision...has to come from me.  my heart.  

and that's what woke me up at 4:30 this morning and wouldn't let me go back to sleep.

goodnight...or morning?

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