Not long after college, I faced a moral dilemma. I wrestled with what to do, especially since right and wrong didn’t seem totally clear-cut. In my prayers, I was kind of waiting for God to give me “permission” to go ahead with what I felt was a good choice under the circumstances. I didn’t hear a “yes,” but I didn’t hear a “no,” either. So I went with what I felt was right.
Looking back on it, I don’t feel as though I made the best decision, and I’ve sometimes wondered why I didn’t get more of a giant red light from God. Where was the divine “No!” when I needed to hear it?
Are we willing to follow God’s direction, even if it’s unexpected?
As I’ve prayed about that issue and other dilemmas since then, I’ve learned a couple of things. First, I needed to upgrade my view of God. As I understood God better as unerring divine Principle, I realized He doesn’t hand out yeses or nos to the dilemmas we face. Instead, prayer helps us see more of the steadfastness and trustworthiness of Principle in operation, which in turn brings our actions into line with the rightness of that Principle. Good decisions result.
Second, and here’s the big one, I learned that the way I’m approaching a decision really matters: Getting the right answer, especially when I feel conflicted, comes down in large part to the way I ask.
What I mean is: It matters what we’re thinking when we pray for direction. Are we open to whatever the answer is, even if it isn’t what we think we want to hear? Are we willing to follow God’s direction, even if it’s unexpected?
Do we truly care more about hearing and following God than whatever we think we want? Do we want to do what’s most in line with divine Principle and Love more than we want to follow the crowd, or experience momentary gratification, or take the easy way out?
I’ve found that openness, willingness, humility, and a desire to love and serve God are exactly the qualities that take me from a place of feeling conflicted about something to knowing deeply and surely whatever the best thing is for me to do. And what’s interesting is that while the answers sometimes come in the form of a specific message, often, as I allow these qualities to be uppermost in my thoughts and foremost in my heart, I’ll just feel momentum in the correct direction. I’ll be moved that way without even trying.
That’s what happened more recently when I was going back and forth about a decision and not feeling clear about which direction was right. It wasn’t a moral issue; but it was something that seemed like it could have a negative impact if I made the wrong choice.
This time, as I prayed, I didn’t try to get God’s permission or ask for a yes or no answer. I just opened my heart to God and prayed to feel led to take the path that would allow me to honor Him and to be of the greatest service to Him. Maybe that sounds like a drag, but I’ve seen from past experiences that being of service to God makes me feel the happiest, the most satisfied, and the most at peace with myself. So I knew I wanted that this time, too.
I affirmed that I loved God more than I cared about my personal agenda.
I didn’t get an immediate answer, but I didn’t take that to mean that God had gone silent on me. Because God is Love, I knew I could trust that I would have the direction I needed. And in the meantime, I kept going deeper in my willingness to listen, to be obedient, and to love God more purely. I did this by silencing the thoughts that urged me to push ahead with my own desires or sense of what was right, and by affirming that I loved God more than I cared about my personal agenda.
In this case, I got the answer in the most creative way! I was out shopping when someone I encountered mentioned just the issue I’d been thinking about, and as she talked, I knew with 100 percent clarity that the path I’d been thinking about wasn’t for me. There was no angst and no regret. I felt peaceful and certain and let the whole thing go—and I’ve never once felt I missed out.
That’s the way it is with God. The answers we find as we humbly draw close to Him are so good and so right that they never feel like second best. In fact, I’m beginning to see that when our love for God dominates our decision making, we don’t simply get direction or answers. We actually experience God’s overflowing blessings, showering us with more goodness than we ever thought possible.