Deciding Where to Go From Here

When I was about to graduate from college, I was experiencing the most stressful semester of my schooling I had ever encountered. I cannot even recall how many hours of classes I was taking, I just remember that each of them required a 10 page paper plus homework, plus finals, etc. and I thought I was going to die in the midst of all that work plus trying to live the social life of a 20 year old college undergrad. That's only slightly dramatic I know, and yet, it was a harrowing time in my little life. And then as I was beginning to see the light at the end of this beautiful tunnel, I realized I had to decide what happened next.

I had applied for an internship in South Carolina that summer working at a beach resort doing mission work through serving the tourists there and I had been accepted. I was also praying heavily about applying to a children's ministry position with a church in Australia. It was a minimum of one year. And lastly, I had been offered a position at the local church I had gone to/volunteered at/worked at for my entire college career. The preteen minister there would be moving to Africa indefinitely and she asked me to take her spot.

I wanted sincerely to do all of them and yet I could only choose one of them. Anyone that knows me well knows that any decision but especially one of this caliber is agonized over. It's overthought. Overanalyzed. I pray hard. I make lists. I talk to everyone, including strangers about what they think I should do. And then at some point after too much work, I make the decision.

I remember particularly researching Australia and reading a BuzzFeed article about how everything in Australia wants to kill you. And South Carolina would only be for the summer, and would pay very little. Yet to stay and work at the local church would mean denying the adventure of the other two for the safety of a stable job that would be very good. I can distinctly list out, years later, all of the pros and cons of each one.

Finally I landed in the office of our BCM director, Chad. He knew that I was trying to decide what to do next and so he asked me what I was thinking about. I explained that I had three really good options and even after praying, I just had no idea. I needed a billboard from God to tell me, "Ashlee. Do this thing." Chad humored me somewhat but eventually he just looked at me and said something to the effect of, "Sometimes God gives you multiple good options and you just pick one. There is no right or wrong one. You just pick the one that feels right and you go for it."

I like to think now that in that moment I knew what to do, which is a lie. I'm pretty certain I still agonized for a while. But I eventually made my decision. I truthfully didn't feel super peaceful about it at first, because you know, I still had two really good other options. And yet now, 4 years later, I know that my decision worked out.

Truthfully, I believe that life would have been good even had I chosen one of the other options. Which is why I've carried Chad's advice with me through all of these tumultous seasons of decision making over the past few years. Sometimes you just pick, because there's not a "right" or a "wrong". You just jump and the Lord carries you from there.

Caleb and I are getting married this year and we have some big decisions to make in the near future. And as we have been pondering them and what the "right" one is, I'm trusting that whatever choice we make will be a good one. Not only are we in this place again in life, many of my friends have either been here recently or are in a season of having to make some calls about what happens next, where do we go from here. And the conversation seems to center around the fact that all of our options are good. On pro/con lists, they even out. None just outright seem like a bad option. So we pick the one that feels best and we go for it, believing that it will work out as it was meant to.

This process of choosing has led me to believe that if my heart is desiring to be obedient and faithful, God is going to take care of the rest. I have figured that out in the midst of past decisions and I'm trusting that in my future choices.

This is not to say that all of the time, we are presented with all good options. Not everything is best for us and sometimes those things that aren't are pretty blatantly obvious, while other times they may not be. Truthfully though we often have an idea of this, even if it's only the slightest bad feeling, we tend to know when something is off.

As Caleb and I pray for our upcoming decisions and what is next for us, I'll be praying for everyone else deciding what happens next in life. Praying that God guides you and that as you choose, He will lead the way and provide for you in His faithfulness.