A little over a year ago I was in Dallas for a conference, and I happened to meet today’s guest contributor back stage. I was immediately impressed by her–she is smart, strong, and a natural leader–so we stayed in touch. A year later, in a fun twist of events, she flew out here for a weekend, simply to hang out with me and Sarah at a conference I was speaking at. I am so grateful God brought her friendship into my life, and I am SO PROUD OF HER that she will be starting seminary at Fuller this fall! You are going to love her, but before you read her message, here is Cheyanne in her own words…
Hello beautiful women!
I’m Cheyanne – a 27-year-old who was raised in small-town-Texas and am now a self-proclaimed Dallas-ite, though I like to keep one foot in both worlds. If you asked what I’m passionate about, top answers would include: abiding with the Lord, justice and fairness, leaving everything/one better than you found it/them, sitting with someone who’s hurting, and the life-long process of learning. Recently, God made it clear that seminary was the next step in my journey with Him, and having been accepted to Fuller Theological Seminary, I’ll begin studying spiritual formation and soul care starting this summer! After that, who knows what God has up His sleeves, but I often dream of running a soul care retreat center in the mountains someday. Complete with a full-service coffee bar and cozy blankets, naturally.
Follow her Instagram: @cheynicholepatt
Working Toward “Well Done”
By Cheyanne Patterson
There’s been a lot of gray lately. The rules, rhythms, and structures of “normal life” have been flipped upside down. They have been challenged or even disappeared altogether. Our lives look much different than they did a few short months ago. Certainly none of us expected May 2020 to look quite like this.
Even outside of a worldwide pandemic, life and the decisions that come with it aren’t always as black-and-white as we wish. Although it would certainly make them much easier to navigate. While the Bible gives us wise guidance and distinct principles in many different arenas, there are also a lot of “gray” areas that don’t clearly fall into a category of “right” or “wrong.”
So what is the right way to make decisions when you don’t know if they’re right or wrong? How can we feel confident we’re making the “right” choice?
I think the answer to our question requires a slight, yet significant shift.
Consider this: what if we are actually starting with the wrong question?
Recently, I had my own big, “in-the-gray” decision to make. I spent way too much time trying to make the decision. I was exhausted from going round-and-round in my own head, doing my best to figure out what the “right” choice was. I’d sought the Lord every way I knew how and had practiced every spiritual discipline I could think of in the process, but there was still a major lack of clarity. Isn’t that a frustrating place to be? You are laboring to hear from God but all you get back is seemingly silence and distance.
But finally, one random Wednesday afternoon, I clearly heard Him challenge me in His still-small voice.
He challenged me to change my line of thinking from “right vs. wrong” to “well done, good and faithful servant.”
The question no longer was, “Am I making the right choice?” It was, “If I had to stand before God and give an account for this decision, which would He respond with, ‘Well done’ too?” And the answer was all of a sudden much more clear.
In this season, many of us are having to adjust our plans and are facing hard choices. With so much uncertainty around us, it is easy to lose sight of a heavenly goal and begin to focus on the earthly uncertainties in front of us. But when we determine our sights on the goal of hearing our Father someday say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” it becomes much easier for Him to splice through the different layers of fears, anxieties, and motivations of our heart to bring clarity in the choices we’re facing today (Hebrews 4:12).
Maybe this mindset shift is a fitting puzzle piece in what Paul encourages us with in Romans 12:2 –
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
If you know anything about Paul, it is probably that he was an incredibly inspiring Christ-follower who was frequently in incredibly difficult circumstances. Yet when we look at the mindset he approached life with, it is easy to see his ultimate goal was to hear “well done.” Though it was often costly and uncomfortable, he was willing – considered it his joy, even – to live a radically different life, and make radically different decisions, then the culture of His day.
The same applies to us today. We, too, find ourselves in incredibly difficult circumstances and have to make difficult decisions in this pandemic. We get to choose the mindset with which we approach life and make our decisions.
Working toward “well done” might not always look like making the most popular or convenient choice, it might even challenge a few cultural-Christian norms at times. But if we can approach our decisions in life with this question – in the company of biblical truth, community, and prayer – God can use it in powerful ways to bring clarity, confidence, and conviction where it’s needed in our lives and hearts.
What area of your heart or life might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to take a fresh look at through this lens? Is it a situation with your kids or spouse? Is it a stressful situation you’ve found yourself in because of COVID? Is it a matter of surrendering your “ick” and choosing to die to your flesh?
In the big and little things, let us choose to practice renewing our minds, shifting our decision-making, and working toward “well done.”