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Making Big Decisions: Letting People Speak Into Your Life

Anyway, I digress. Back in February I posted this picture on my Instagram and later alluded to some life changing conversations. That's because the day that picture was taken was the day that this lovely lady, one of my best friends, all but convinced me that I should go back to grad school. 

Now, it has been my dream to go back to graduate school and become a nurse practitioner since I was 15 years old. But with my hubby applying to physician assistant school and us continuing to live off of a single income, the time just didn't seem right. My dream had gone to the "someday" realm. My dear friend brought it back into the "maybe today realm". I don't think that conversation was an accident, nor was my reaction to it. 

You see, I think a huge part of life is letting others speak into our lives. Sometimes this is challenging when they're speaking to us about something we need to work on. Maybe it’s challenging because they're not doing it in love. Or maybe it’s challenging because it's just not something we want to hear at that moment. But I think our challenge is in paying attention to the words others speak to us because God speaks to us through others. 

Sometimes we don't always recognize it as God speaking through our friend, but this time it was so crystal clear that God was moving in my heart. After spending three hours talking about going back to graduate school, I went home feeling energized and excited- something I hadn't felt in months. I no longer dreaded going to work; instead I looked forward to it because I saw it as an opportunity to keep learning as much as I could. At work I started to explore as much as I could- reading doctors' notes of my patients and googling words I didn't know, and seeking out opportunities to listen to a heart murmur or other abnormalities. I'm not saying that every time you feel excited about something, that it's from God. But I do think that passion and energy can be signs of the Holy Spirit. 

Even though I felt excited and passionate after our conversation, I continued to pray about what we had talked about. Just because someone speaks into your life, doesn't mean that it's automatically from God. Therefore, we always have to pray for discernment when the Lord speaks to us through others. In this situation, the more I prayed, the more peace I felt. Throughout my life, I know that my spirit will sense peace when it's the way of the Lord. I've always been pretty receptive when things don't feel right, and the peace is almost always overwhelming when I know I am following God's will. That's not to say that I don't have doubts (that's the post coming up next), but I believe that the Lord grants peace when you are in His will. 

So, what are the take home points from our first lesson in decision making? 

Listen to those speaking into your life, because often that can be God's way of reaching you. 

Pray for discernment in your conversations with others. 

Be attentive to your spirit- passion, peace, and energy are all things of God and can often indicate the will of our Father. 

Please don't take this post as one that is saying "do whatever feels right". There is so much more to decision making than what you feel, and I hope that through this series you've come to understand that. But do pay attention to your spirit because often the Holy Spirit does move through emotions. Listening to others that you trust and praying for discernment regarding these conversations can play a huge role in helping you make big decisions. 

Do you find it hard to listen to others speaking into your life? Do you have a hard time trusting your feelings when it comes to making decisions?

Miss earlier posts in the series? Go ahead and check them out: 
Making Big Decisions 101
Four Practical Steps to Wisdom
3 Questions to Ask Yourself
Overcoming Doubt
Examining Your Motives

Making Big Decisions: Examining Your Motives

One of the big fears and things I prayed about from the beginning of my journey to graduate school was for pure motives. I have wanted to become a nurse practitioner since I was 15. I wrote all my college and scholarship essays about it during my senior year of high school. During college as I interviewed for more scholarships, I remember having a hard time answering why I wanted to become a nurse because I had a much easier time articulating why I wanted to become a nurse practitioner. 

When I started applying for graduate school a year ago, I began to question if I was doing it for the right motives. Part of me has always been a little lot competitive, and I knew that I would potentially feel inferior if Alex had a graduate degree and I didn't (silly, I know). 

I love my job working as a bedside nurse that spends 12+ hours with the same patients... would I really like the NP role where I see patients for a 15 minute visit and that's it? 

I liked the idea of the salary that nurse practitioners make, but I had more than one coworker look me straight in the eye and tell me that if I was to go to NP school, don't do it for the money (several of them have friends that are making less as a nurse practitioner than they did as a nurse). 

All this to say, I really needed to question my motives. If I was going to spend the next three years and a nice chunk of money pursuing my dream, I wanted to do it for more than a name and a paycheck. 

From the very beginning my prayer has always been (and continues to be): 

"Grant me purity of heart [Lord], so that I may honor You." - Psalm 86:11

One of my favorite songs ever is "Create in Me a Clean Heart" by Keith Green. I often sing this song during my prayer time in the mornings because I long for a pure heart in everything I do, whether it involves my marriage, my work, or my relationships.

In every big decision there are underlying motives. Whether it's a job change, a decision to go back to school, or the decision to start a family, there are reasons you either do or do not want to pursue a certain avenue.

I think it's important to examine ourselves in these situations and ask why we want to do the things we want to do.

Do we want to go back to school because we're bored with our current situation and/or want to keep up with the Jones' (or my own husband in my case)?

Are we looking at moving solely because of money, without examining the toll it might take on our family?

Are we looking to start a family because everyone else is and I want to be part of the "mom club"?

Now hear me out, none of the motives I've mentioned are inherently wrong. But I think in any big decision, taking a closer look at our motives is always worth it. Perhaps it's not the graduate degree or the baby you want... perhaps you're trying to find contentment in something other than Jesus (been there, done that friends). Maybe you're equating the idea of more money at a new job with more happiness (we and the million studies that have been done on this know that this isn't true).

So what can we do about it?

Well the first step is to pray for a clean heart and pure motives. It seems like a vague concept, but just like asking the Lord for wisdom (LINK), I truly believe that God will reveal to us impure motives if we let him. No matter how many people I talk to, blogs I read, or podcasts I listen to, the biggest revelations of my heart always come through prayer. And from personal experience, those revelations are usually the icky things that the Lord brings to mind that I try to ignore. Being receptive to those promptings can go a long way into teaching you more about the state of your heart.

Next, we can seek godly counsel. As always, talking through your situation with someone who loves you, loves Jesus, and has your best interests at heart can prove to be invaluable. Often they can see things in us that we ourselves can't see. In a joint decision (one between you and your spouse), I find it helpful to seek godly counsel from someone that isn't my husband. He provides wisdom a lot of the times, but sometimes his proximity to the situation allows him to be blind to certain things as well.

Ultimately, give the Lord control over your heart and your situation. This sounds trite, but what I mean by it is be brave enough to ask the Lord to close doors that need to be closed and open doors that need to be open. I've prayed that the Lord would place a stumbling block in my path if I lose track of my heavenly purpose and start focusing on earthly motives- it's a scary prayer to pray, but truly it's what we want right? We want our motives to be pure, and if we can't discern them then we want God to step in and nudge us to the way He has for us.


As I prayed about graduate school, the Lord revealed some pretty ugly motives I had. I continued to pray and found the true reasons that I am motivated to go to school. I believe the Lord gave me the dream to become an NP when I was 15, but it was for reasons other than prestige and salary. It took a few months for me to truly set my heart and motives in the right place, but it was incredibly freeing when I finally got to that place.

Examining your motives is often hard and ugly. But ultimately, it's so worth it because not only will you be following the will of your creator, but you will be following His will with the right heart.

What are other ways that you have found to keep your motives in check? 

{If you missed earlier posts in this series, be sure to check out Making Big Decisions 101, 4 Practical Steps to Wisdom, 3 Questions to Ask Yourself, and Overcoming Doubt .} 

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