This is a question that we, as God’s people tend to ask frequently. As human beings, we like certainty. We want to make sure we are “right with God” and we “don’t want to get it wrong”! Some people are afraid that they might miss God’s will for their life, and make an irreparable mistake. To top it off, many of us want to be told what to do because we don’t trust our own judgement, while others of us rebel at any whiff of being told what to do and feel a compulsion to do the opposite!How are we, as Orthodox Christians, to think about this?  Well, there are some basic guiding principles that we always go back to.  At its most basic, God’s will for us is that we do good, and don’t do evil. We are to “love our neighbor as ourselves”, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give hospitality to the homeless, and visit those in prison. We are to cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). We are to “fear no evil”, “have no other Gods but God” and “not make for yourself any idol nor bow down to it or worship it”. We are to not sin. It seems that we are to identify the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has granted us, and to exercise them without grumbling. We are not to think that we are supposed to exercise every gift, as we are part of the Body of Christ, and have our own place and ministry within that. We are supposed to honor our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Beyond the stated goal of therefore avoiding fornication, I believe this also means that we are to not engage in behaviors that harm our body, such as over-work, under-exercise and not enough sleep. We are to do “all things in moderation” and not offend our brother.Beyond that, God has created each one of us with unique gifts, talents, interests, desires, and things that bring us joy. What brings me joy and grabs my interest might be very different from what brings you joy, and grabs your interest. My talents and place in the Body of Christ are very different from yours. This is the way it should be. We truly are given the free will to follow these desires, and develop our gifts, providing that they don’t violate the principles of the above paragraph. God indeed guides us through our own interests, gifts and healthy passions.So where do we tend to get hung up in figuring out God’s will for us?  Some of us have been so wounded growing up that we have lost touch with our “true selves”, with who God created us to be. We aren’t able to access our own inner voice, much less God’s. We always second guess our own decisions, and don’t dare make a mistake in any area of our lives. We are unable to trust God with our own fallibility. We haven’t dared or been given the opportunity to ask: “What is it that I really want? What actually ARE my gifts and talents?” If this is the case, prayer, confession focused on the damage done to us by trauma and emotional neglect, and engaging in trauma-oriented psychotherapy, will gradually restore us to wholeness. Then we will be able more and more to trust our inner voice and hear God’s without internal distortion and static.That said, understanding our inner motivation for making a decision one way or the other is also vital. We must analyze, but not obsessively!, these motivations for idolatry and the basic passions: lust, pride, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, and envy. I think about idolatry as the need to turn to the world’s protection - money, social status, etc, because we don’t trust God’s ability and willingness to truly take care of us and our needs and protect us from soul-destroying evil. For some of us, this is because we truly have been harmed and want to make sure no more harm comes to us or our families, and for others, surviving in the world is simply tough, and we want to protect ourselves from failure and mayhem the best we can. So, we keep bringing these things to confession, and we keep seeking healing and the ability to trust God’s mercy towards us, no matter the circumstances.Finally, bottom line, whether it be deciding what job to take, who to marry, what school to go to, or even what church to attend, once we have determined proper fit and motivation, we must surrender the outcome to God. We must trust Him with our lives. He works through our “mistakes” and He heals us through our challenges. If we are always seeking to align our wills with God’s Will for us, He will guide and protect us. While sometimes we must leap with our eyes closed and hope He will catch us, at other times, the direction is very clear and God’s mercy is evident. 

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