When I was young, I remember always having to ask my parents for permission to do anything at all. Can I go out with my friends? Can I attend this or that school programme?
Somehow this habit of getting a “yes” from others has become totally ingrained in me. It feels like I need to get the green light before I embark on anything.
I mean, it isn’t such a bad thing, if you think about. It means that before I begin doing anything, I consult others and making sure that it is indeed the right and best thing to do. Better to err on the safe side than being reckless, no?
I wasn’t asking Him which way to go. I was telling Him which way I wanted Him to approve of me going.
However, it’s slowly developed beyond just being sure. It came to a point where, whenever I was faced with a decision, I would ask God if I should do it or not. But it wasn’t about Him. It was all about me.
I wasn’t asking Him which way to go. I was telling Him which way I wanted Him to approve of me going. I made it look like I was pursuing God’s plan for my life, but the truth was that I was really pursuing God’s endorsement of my life.
I wanted God to say yes to whatever I wanted. Whenever I asked God if I should do something, His reply rarely mattered to me. I went to Him with what I wanted to hear in mind.
I was searching for validation for what I thought and desired. If God said yes, I was happy. But when He told me otherwise, the message would not be as easy to swallow. Sometimes, I would even tune out just because He was not saying what I wanted to hear. I would reject whatever He said if it did not align with my own desires. Or maybe even twist God’s words to my liking.
I’m not even sure why I was looking for Him, since it was all about what I wanted.
To be really honest, it’s really tough for me to put aside my own selfish desires and make God’s desires mine. Like a child, I want to simply have the freedom to run around to do as I wish. But this thinking does not translate into freedom at all. God created boundaries for me to experience true freedom – within His safe space, I can do what I want without worrying about how far I can fall.
And He knows it’s not always about the end-goal – it’s not about me getting what I want. When I seek Him on some decision, my goal is about making the right choice, but His goal is about making the posture of my heart right – because there, all decisions are wise ones.
I looked to God when I had to decide whether I should pursue an education and career in dance. “Why do you want to do it?”, He asked me.
I’d been telling others that I wanted to pursue dance because I wanted to use this talent to bring people to Christ, reaching out to souls through this gift. Of course, I was saying the right things to convince others – and myself.
This is for you, isn’t it?, God said.
God was right (as He always is). Beneath that noble facade, I had grown to love dancing because of the attention I got. The fame. I wanted to the compliments, the popularity, the prominence. I wanted to be seen.
God led me to look at the desires of my heart. He let me realise that I was attempting to disguise my selfish desires as His will. I was asking Him to endorse my plans, tweaking His words to fit into my plans. I was more willing to compromise God than to make any compromises myself. I came to Him with a completed drawing rather than a blank canvas.
To be really honest, it’s really tough for me to put aside my own selfish desires and make God’s desires mine.
Why did I want to do it? Not for the right reasons, I finally admitted to me/Him. I dropped the idea.
Even now that I’m aware of this tendency of mine, it still isn’t easy to place God’s will before my own in every decision I have to make. I know that if I’m not careful, I’ll revert back to my old ways – pursuing whatever I want. I have to make a conscious effort to surrender my desires to God.
Through that, I’ve learnt that when I have the right attitude before God, the right-doing flows naturally. So if you’re asking God what you should be doing, instead of looking at the right actions and behaviour, try looking deeper into your heart.