Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The "Three Ps" of Decision Making

This past week I got a text that read:

"When God has shown you what path to take in life how has He directed you?"

It was a good question and frankly I was honored to be asked. Though some might see me as "young" I've lived a lot of life and had quite a few direction changes in my years. God has continually blessed me but there have been quite a few crossroads where the path forward seemed uncertain or unclear.

The first piece of advice would probably be to chill out and wait but that didn't start with a "P" so it will just be an addendum. Plus I still stink at the waiting part. Too many times we are so anxious for knowledge that we think God is ignoring us, instead of realizing that we just need to wait for His timing. But waiting sucks, so I really don't blame you if you've gotten annoyed waiting for God to answer. It's all a test of patience (which starts with a "P") and trust (which doesn't).

So here I present to you the "3 Ps" of discovering God's path. It's pretty fail-proof and I totally made it up, so be suitably impressed. I discovered this theory when giving the same advice to a younger friend of mine from college a few years back. It was such a joy to realize what God had taught me over the years (and to realize that they all started with the same letter).

#1: Prayer
When I have to make a big decision like where to go to college, what to do after college, what job to take, where to move, etc. I first bathe the decision in prayer. This means like crazy bubble bath, all-in kind of prayer. For months I will pray, not that God will choose this or that for me (tried that and it didn't work), but that He will guide my path and help me have wisdom to choose the right direction.
When I have thoroughly doused a decision in prayer I believe (and this is just me) that the path I choose is the one God had in store for me. That is, as long as the decision is filled with. . .

#2: Peace
Once I have made a decision I always feel peace if it is the one God is approving of. It is the kind of peace that permeates your soul. The decision may be crazy, like move-all-the-way-across-the-country-to-a-city-and-a-school-you-have-never-seen-one-week-after-returning-from-India kind of crazy, but even if no one gets it and it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense there is peace. When I moved to go to Fuller Seminary I should have been so nervous and worried about the decision but I wasn't. I had peace and so I knew that this was where God was directing me. Not to mention. . .

#3: Provision
This is the final piece of the puzzle, the final way that I become convinced that God is taking care of me and showing me the right path to take. When we pray through a decision and then make a decision that gives us peace, I find that in the end God always provides. After college no doors were opening for me, but when I decided to move to California I almost immediately had an apartment and the means to get out there. It was an open door. Generally when doors keep shutting in your face it means that God wants you to wait until He opens one for you to go through. And even if we have to. . .ugh I'm going to say it again . . .wait. . He always always provides as you walk in His will.

You might have some other ways you've seen God direct your path and sometimes He gives us more than one path and both are equally fine and wonderful, but these are just some tips that have helped me get through some big decision-making times. God is so good and He will never leave you alone, no matter what you decide. As long as your decision is within God's will (meaning that it matches the teaching of the Bible and isn't sinful) He will take care of you.

Remember that. God will always walk alongside you. So quit worrying and start praying. All will be well, and praise God for it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Learning to Breathe

The other night I realized I had poison ivy all over my right arm. In the midst of uncontrollable frustration as to its symptoms (and initially thinking it could be bed bugs brought home from the rez) I then flooded my laundry room trying to wash all the pillows. It was one of those nights where the little things become huge problems and I felt my stress and anxiety rise as I rushed around my house howling about my arm that was surely about to fall off or kill me.

Perhaps I have a flair for the dramatics.

Though those problems weren't really as life-threatening as I made them seem they were a smaller symptom of a bigger problem. Throughout year 2 of my ministry on the reservation the hurts, the trauma, and the pain have built up to manifest themselves in the ever-increasing anxiety attacks that I have paid tribute to before. In the midst of the joy, the fun, the happy, my heart begins to beat incredibly fast and I cannot breathe quite as easily as before. It's definitely not good but it's become my normal.

But let's face it, it isn't good. So as I was freaking out with dramatic text messages like this one:

Me: I think I'm dying. These bug bites itch too much. And I can't sleep. Or breathe. 

I received back advice like this:

Cam: You need to take a second. Take a second and get your thoughts and yourself back under control. Just stand in one spot for a second and breathe. 

So I did. It seemed like simple enough advice so it was worth a try.

I closed my eyes and I focused on my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. As I took back control of who I am, who God is, and how ok life is I began to clear my mind and remember that everything really was going to be fine.

It was a brief moment of silence in the chaos I had created and the chaos that surrounds me.

 I think these brief moments of silence are all too often overlooked in the busyness of our lives. Yes, there are a million things on my to-do list but that doesn't mean I don't have time to stop, to breathe, to quiet my mind and find God's truth. I flood my mind like my laundry room because I've tried to shove too much in. The acts are good intentioned, they are for the "betterment" of myself and others, but if I don't slow down and if I don't de-clutter then good intentions are all they will be. In order to be healthy, to work with others in their health, I have to slow down. I have to breathe.

Because eventually the poison ivy will stop itching and the pillows will dry and Jesus will come back and everything will be ok. I breathe it in.

It's all going to be ok.