When it comes to decision-making, my husband and I have always taken the approach that if a door opens in the direction of our desires, we will walk through it. We pray about it first, but if we don’t feel any specific leading one way or another, through the door we walk, or run depending on how exciting the life beyond the door may be. Over the years, doors have swung open to reveal amazing opportunities, giving us the chance to live abroad, make life-long friends, travel, and in my husband’s case, work hard at a fulfilling job and attend graduate school.
By saying yes to opportunity, we also said yes to sacrificing some of our other desires. We gave up time and memory-making with our extended families, we pulled up our roots, and sacrificed some of our stability. My husband missed a lot of dinners and concerts and teacher meetings, and I single-parented while he chased his career around the globe. When we say yes to a good thing, even the right thing for our family, it often comes with a set of no’s attached.
We’re in a current season of waiting, of holding while we pray for doors to open in the direction of our desires. Recently, a few opportunities came my way, a few slivers of light shining through a crack in the door. And out of fear, out of the certain knowledge that I will never, ever have an opportunity come my way again, out of a despairing spirit, I wanted to push the doors open wide and bask in the glow of light with a resounding yes.
I said yes to one opportunity out of fear, and I felt its magnetic pull immediately, taking me further away from the things I truly want to pursue. I discovered an open door isn’t necessarily the right one, and I second guessed myself until I finally backpedalled my way out of that yes. I had the good sense to shut the door on a few other work offers that would have moved me closer to my desires, but which led down a rather bleak path before arriving there.
All of this back and forth leaves me feeling as if I failed somehow. Failed to see clearly, failed to let my yes be yes and my no be no, failed to move forward in any appreciable way. I am standing exactly where I started. And so, I find myself still waiting, looking for slivers of light through open cracks, wondering if I used up all my chances at open doors.
But, if I listen very closely, behind the whispers of failure I hear the gentle thump of my heartbeat. I am still here. Failure will not kill me or my opportunities. It will only make my heart beat stronger for the better things, the wide open spaces where I can walk through doors more sure of my yes, and better able to recognize my no.
If you find yourself in a similar place today, I want to encourage you to step forward in faith and not fear. Pray about it, make the tough decisions, move in the direction of your desires. Your heart is strong. Failure is a faithful teacher. You will bend perhaps, but you will not break.
Have you ever regretted saying yes to an opportunity? What have you said no to lately?