How can I figure out what to do with my life?

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How can I figure out what to do with my life?

Apr 23, 2012 |John Thomas
Question

I'm going through a rough patch in my life. Life just seems really "blah," for lack of a better term.

I'm a recent college grad who isn't sure what to do with his life, and I'm 28! The job I have now is not something I want to do for the rest of my life. The prospect of looking for a new job brings quite a bit of anxiety, because there are so many options.

My love life isn't much better. I've tried several online dating sites to no avail. There aren't really any prospects at my church either. To be honest, I've never had a girlfriend. I don't think I'm socially inept, and I'm not unattractive.

The above mentioned things make me anxious at times. How am I supposed to look for another job and figure out what I want to do when I'm happy just to make it through the day sometimes? I often feel like I'm just going through the motions.

I've talked to several counselors about some of my anxiety, and it seemed to help somewhat. I've also taken anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications. Those seemed to help somewhat as well.

I've been a Christian my entire life. I've been going to church virtually my entire life. I think I've probably heard just about every churchy and Christian cliché/platitude about what I'm going through. Fortunately, I do have supportive, loving and Christian parents and friends to support me. But any advice and encouragement from Boundless would also be much appreciated.

Answer

I don't think careers or relationships are your primary problems, so I'm going to limit my thoughts to what I think might be keeping you from thinking clearly about them. If I'm right, once you tackle the lesser problems, the larger ones become much more manageable.

If your life had a dashboard, right now you have multiple warning lights coming on, and you're not sure what to do next. Like you said, it's hard to "make it through the day" when so many things seem out of order. The "Career" and "Relationship" seem like the most critical, but I'm going to suggest that dealing with some other, maybe lesser, "warning lights" first will make those two easier to manage by reducing the surrounding noise and clutter.

I'm glad you're seeking professional Christian counseling. From what you've described, I think that's an important part of your journey out of the "blahs."

Next, I don't want to sound like a mother hen (or father rooster, I guess) here — but I really want you to consider some basics that can have significant impact on your emotional state of mind: Do not underestimate the importance of your diet and nutrition, exercise and rest. These are things we don't think much about but can have huge impact on our emotional state, especially with regard to depression. This advice might sound too simple, but I have been surprised by how consistently these themes recur whenever I visit with others who share similar struggles.

I'm not at all trying to over-simplify, but sometimes in my own life the "blah" can be significantly connected to food, exercise and/or rest. It might not exclusively be one or some combination of these, but ignoring them can add fuel to whatever negative fires I'm dealing with and cloud my thinking. I'm not saying you need to be a "health nut," but you need to appreciate how your physical health affects your mental health. I speak from my own experience and from others: Eating well, being active and getting the right amount of sleep can help clear some fog away so that we can better address other problem areas.

OK, physical-health lecture over. Now let's talk about your spiritual diet.

Again, some things are so subtle we don't even think about them, but like gnats buzzing around our head, they distract our ability to focus. Spiritual disciplines can seem powerless when crowded out by consumption of those things that work in opposition to them. If I eat one piece of broccoli per two dozen donuts, the donuts win, both literally and metaphorically.

I'll illustrate with a true story. A young man I was mentoring once told me that prayer just wasn't working for him. What I discovered is that he prayed a little each week, but spent hours consuming media that was either neutral at best and hostile at worst toward kingdom life and culture. The scales were so tipped in favor of the world's message that the kingdom message was drowned out. Once he both reduced his exposure to the former and started strategically pursing the things that advanced God's kingdom in his heart, he began to see fruit very quickly.

You are what you eat, both naturally and spiritually. Said another way in Scripture, we become what we behold. That's what 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us: "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

What does it mean to "behold" the "glory of the Lord"? I think it means keeping His truth at the forefront of our mind and heart as often as we can. Simply think about Him, who He is, what He's done, His nature, His character, His power. Meditate on all the ways He's been faithful in our lives.

I know you've heard the Christian advice so much it's become "cliché," but the fact that truth is repeated often doesn't make it any less the truth. It can, however, lose its power and meaning in your life — and that's a real danger. Maybe you need to set yourself to rediscover the brilliant majesty of God's glory. While some Christian advice can seem cliché, the man Jesus Christ will never cease to enthrall every fiber of who we are.

Sometimes getting Him to come into focus is as simple as intentionally reducing the noise and changing our gaze. Once that starts to happen, we are able to begin thinking clearly and rightly about the other "lights" on the dashboard.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2012 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

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