5 Steps to Clear Direction
I feel hopeless and without direction. This parenting thing challenges me in ways I never expected. Who can ever be smart enough and strong enough to parent well? “Just tell me what I’m supposed to do,” I pray, “and I’ll do it. I don’t know the way to go. I don’t even know where to start.” As a mom of four children, I circle back to this prayer time and again. Parenting repeatedly exposes my weakness. I feel weak and dumb. How can God entrust me with such a great responsibility of four children? Since he has, I know he will show me the way to go.
Have you ever felt lost when it comes to parenting? Have the books left you with grand ideas but then don’t “work” for you and your situation? Books and general parenting advice have their place, but the challenges of parenting unveil a deeper need everyone has: clear direction.
Direction for everyone
Even if you’re not wrestling with a specific parenting issue, knowing the way to go is the first step in living the life God intended. As I read Psalms 139, I discovered five steps anyone can use to find clear direction.
This Psalm is a prayer. It starts with God’s intimate knowledge of who we are, down the very details of our development within the womb. God knows what we can’t possibly know about ourselves—how we were formed—and all the details of our life—even knowing our very words before we speak. At the end of the Psalm, the writer asks God:
The writer acknowledges,
O lord, you have examined my heartand know everything about me. Psalm 139:1
He’s asking God to help him to know himself and the way to go in life. He wants clear direction. God knows him. The writer wants the Author of Life to help him to know himself and, from there, to know the way to go.
5 Steps to know the way to go
- Search me, and know my mind. The root of our thinking comes from what we feed our minds. What are we reading, watching, and listening? Are we filling it with truth? What loop-tape thoughts are repeating in our brains? Are we letting our thoughts run wild or are we capturing our thoughts? “Lord, help me to know my thoughts. Align my thinking to your truth.”
- Know my emotions. Oftentimes, our underlying thoughts direct our feelings. That’s not always the case. As I read The Female Brain (affiliate link), I discovered how our hormones influence emotions. Hormones affect guys’ emotions too, but they don’t experience the same rollercoaster of hormonal change. Some feelings are rooted in hormones. Some come from negative thoughts. Who knows what’s going on? God. “Help me understand my emotions. When I’m overwhelmed by my feelings, I need you. Replace my worry with your peace. Give me hope in my despair.”
- Test me. I don’t test well. I get nervous and second guess. I perform better when I don’t know it’s a test. But the purpose of a test is for proof. Do I know my stuff or don’t I? In John 6:6, Jesus tested Philip with the question about bread. Jesus already knew what he was going to do. Philip didn’t know himself or Jesus well enough. The test revealed the truth about Philip’s faith to himself. Why? Because when we know where are, we can better know how we need to grow. “Father, test me so I can know how and where I need to grow in my faith.”
- Point out. In verses 19-22, the author speaks of conflict with others. He calls these people wicked, murderers, and blasphemers. He hates them. He may be right in his estimation of those people, but he’s asking God to point out his sin. Wicked people live in the world, but our focus needs to be on our own opposition to God and his way. “Is there a way I’m opposed to you? God, show me.”
- Lead me. After much searching, knowing, testing, and pointing out, then comes following God’s lead. In these steps, we invite God into the process. We ask him to help us know ourselves better and him better. When we know the truth about ourselves and about God, we better know his path. His path leads to everlasting life. That journey begins and ends with him. He knows the way. “Lead me toward eternity. In all aspects of my life, I want to move toward you, God. Give me eyes to see clearly your direction and willingness to follow your leadership.”
Clear direction for today
When I feel dumb and weak as a parent, God gives me an opportunity to know him and me better. He helps me clearly see the real issues. Then I know the next step. Imagine clearing all the chaos out of the way and seeing God’s clear direction for today. I want that. If you want that too, begin by inviting God to search you.