Have you ever had to make a tough decision? The kind of dilemma that completely overwhelms all your thoughts for days on end. Well, I recently did.
That afternoon, I walked out of the conference room feeling bewildered. How could I leave? I couldn’t understand why I felt that the Holy Spirit was saying, “Your work here is done. Go use your gifts elsewhere.”
“But, I feel like I have so much more to give”, I thought. It would only be later that I would realize that I do have more to give, just not where I was…but we’ll get to that later.
This problem gnawed at me for days. I kept going back and forth on what to do. Sometimes it’s hard discerning which way is “your will” versus “His Will”.
It really stinks.
Given this recent experience I wanted to share the steps I took that helped me make my choice. My process is based on the Ignatian Framework for Making a Decisions, which I highly recommend.
Note, that I already knew what my issue was (i.e. should I do X or Y?). If you are having a hard time deciding what the actual problem is, I suggest reading through the Ignation Decision Framework I linked to above. It will help you identify the decision to be made or the issue to be resolved.
Pray for Openness to God’s Will and for Freedom From Prejudgment
Ask for that inner freedom and balance that allows you not to be inclined more toward one alternative or option than to the other. This means to ask to be free enough to be influenced only by this one value: which alternative will give most glory to God and be expressive of my own deepest self, my authentic self?
Scripture that is helpful to me to reflect on:
John 12:24, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act”
It’s not natural for us to separate ourselves from judgment. I find it helpful to compartmentalize the issue so that I can try and focus on what the Lord is bringing to light. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the whole reason why you start with this step first.
Gather Info & Discuss
For me, this is probably the most critical. Gathering all the pieces in one place is an extremely clarifying exercise. This can be done mentally or actually written out. Then find someone who you trust and who is impartial. Then discuss the information with them. Usually, I hear the Lord speak to me through other people whom I respect and trust. In this particular decision, I spoke with multiple people including a mentor, my men’s small group and my most trusted confidant, my wife.
Once you’ve gathered all the data.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
List all the reasons you can think of. Do not prejudge their merit. Then once you are done, evaluate to see which advantages and disadvantages seem to be coming from the influence of the Holy Spirit and which ones do not.
Based on the pluses and minuses I also try to think through which route is pragmatic.
Fear Is NOT of the Lord
At this point, I think it is worth reminding you that fear does NOT come from GOD.
It is natural that you start to get anxious as all the details come together, especially if it seems that they are leaning toward a position that we may be uncomfortable with.
God does not bring fear into our lives. This only comes from the evil one.
2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”
Usually when I know I’m on the right path, I feel at peace.
What is peace?
To me, peace is knowing that I’m doing the right thing, for the right reasons and at the right time. God brings us peace. So if you are starting to feel at peace, this might be a sense from the Holy Spirit. Ask God to give you consolation about the best option. Here is some scripture to help:
John 12:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Philippians 4:6-7, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 34:15, Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
However, just because you feel at peace about something, doesn’t make the decision any easier.
Visualize Your Decision and Confirm It
This last step helps you confirm that peaceful feeling, despite the potential bittersweetness that you may be experiencing
Trust in God and make your decision, even if you are not certain about it.
Take the time to imagine yourself for a little while going down the desired path. Do you feel good about it? Do you your thoughts, desires, and feelings continue to support it? If not, you may need to get more information. You can also try imagining yourself going down the other path. If you get a feeling of discomfort or agitation, then the other option may be what God’s will is for you.
I did my best to follow these steps with my most recent decision.
Now, back to that conference room.
I was at a crossroads.
As I got up, I thought to myself, “how could the Lord be asking me to let go of something that I love so dearly?” When I thought about leaving I felt an overwhelming sense of both peace and bittersweetness.
I Finally Made up My Mind
After going through much deliberation, prayer, and spending time in adoration I made my choice.
I decided to leave my position on the board of SQPN (the Star Quest Production Network).
Now, before some of you freak out, you should know that I’m not leaving the SQPN community, just tendering my resignation as a board member. You’ll still see me in the Catholic Weekend chat room occasionally and I plan to continue blogging about Catholic Media and here, at A Couple of Catholics.
I’ve been a board member of SQPN for over four years and it’s been a wild ride. In my tenure, we brought the Lord’s plan to life through podcasts, blogs, videos, Google Hangouts, social media posts, tweetups and more.
In my opinion, one of the best things SQPN ever did was to create The Catholic New Media Celebration. It is an annual gathering of consumers and creators of digital media hosted by SQPN, that celebrates the people behind the content.
I’ve been to all of them and recently attended the 2015 CNMC in Atlanta on June 7th. During the weekend, we celebrated 10 years of Catholic new media. It was the perfect bookend to God gracing me with lifetime friends, an incredible Catholic community and relationships that have produced much fruit both personally and professionally.
I’m incredibly thankful for many things in my life and the SQPN community is in the top five.
Because, I can honestly say my life wouldn’t be the same without SQPN!
My Journey in Catholic New Media
I started podcasting in college with my dear friend Steve Nelson, who then as a campus minister started On the U – College Catholic Podcast.
It was my experience with this podcast production and my film degree that helped me get my start in my career.
Then as my the economy shifted, so did my job. I moved to advertising as a “Lead Social Media Specialist”.
Now as Sr. Social Media Strategist and Web Video Producer, I can see how the Lord was working through SQPN to help me grow professionally.
I grew closer to my brothers by producing the In Between Sundays, a podcast for young adults.
My involvement with SQPN community also challenged me to stay a faithful Catholic in a time of flux when many of my closest friends fell away from the Church.
I became a board member of SQPN in 2012. With this I was able to help the organization with their communications and planning.
I will never know how much my actions as a board member of SQPN did for evangelization or the advancement the use of digital media within the Church. But, one thing’s for sure. We made the world a better place because of how the Spirit used our talents in new media for spreading the Good News.
I am forever thankful and blessed by this organization. This is why it was so hard for me to come to realization that it was time for me to move on. (and why this blog post has nearly taken me a month to write)
You might be thinking, what now?
So What’s the Future Hold?
Well, my friends, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” (Luke 10:2)
I am shifting my focus to my personal projects including writing/blogging, speaking, and a few media ideas I haven’t had the time to work on since joining SQPN.
Lastly, I plan to spend lots of time with my wife and daughter. As many of you know my little girl is about 10 months. She just started crawling and now my life is filled with baby-proofing our apartment and chasing the little goober around.
Despite the deep bittersweet feeling I have about leaving my role at SQPN, I am at peace. After watching Fr. Roderick’s final video address at the CNMC, it made me realize how much SQPN has accomplished in the last 10 years and how grateful I am that I was a part of it.
I have a great sense of hope for the future of Catholic media and will continue to pray for the New Evangelization. Here’s to the next decade!
This post was originally published at PatrickPadley.com.