By Katy Epling
“Well, let’s do something, even if it’s wrong.”
My sweet boyfriend had driven two hours each way to pick me up from college and take me to the comfort of my parents’ house while I moaned and shivered from the flu. Unfortunately, he had slightly miscalculated the amount of fuel left in the tank. As we exited the turnpike, less than five miles from the nice warm fire my dad had inevitably started in the stove for me, the truck sputtered to a stop. It was cold, it was raining, and it was nearly midnight. (I should mention this was before the days of cell phones in every pocket.) It was more than I could take. I fought back tears as I considered my options. My sweetie and I stared at each other for one uncertain moment before he made his declaration. “Wait here. I’ll be right back,” he added as he jumped out of the truck and approached a night crew working on the road.
Wouldn’t you know, an old buddy of his just happened to now work on a road construction crew, and was on duty at that exit on that night? He handed my boyfriend the keys to his truck—where he had an empty gas can—and in less than thirty minutes we were on our way.
I married that sweet boy a few months later, and he continues to cling to this mantra: “Let’s do something, even if it’s wrong.” When we get lost on a hike. When he’s working on a building project. When we’re trying to figure out how to be good parents. Again and again, for almost two decades, his words have reminded me not to be paralyzed by fear, but to just do something.
My husband isn’t encouraging questionable judgment or morally wrong decisions. His refrain speaks to our tendency to get stuck when no clear right or wrong exists. When we’re presented with unclear options or even multiple good options, instead of embracing the freedom to choose, too often we cower at the idea of making the wrong choice. We fill our heads with what ifs and uncertainties and let fear keep us stagnant.
Don’t get me wrong here. Many decisions in life require careful consideration, study, and prayer. Once we have consulted God’s Word and wise counsel, though, we must make a choice and move forward in confidence. It’s time to do something, even if it’s wrong.
But what if it is wrong? What if I mess up God’s plan for my life or my child’s life? I promise you, God’s sovereignty does not depend on your decision-making ability. And if God truly wants you to go in one direction, he will lead you. The apostle Paul serves as an excellent example of this. In Acts 16, Luke tells us Paul was “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (vv. 6–7 ESV). Paul finally had a vision telling him to go to Macedonia. In the meantime, though, he didn’t remain still and silent. He actively pursued a life of service and let God guide him as necessary.
You might be thinking, I’ve made the wrong decision before and it led to so much hurt and heartache. I’m a little gun-shy. I have been there, and I get it, but I think we are a little quick to equate “hard” with “wrong.” Just because a decision leads to hard circumstances doesn’t mean it was the wrong choice. Paul shared with the Corinthian church, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea” (2 Corinthians 11:24–25 ESV). His list goes on from there. Talk about sufferings! Were they the consequence of wrong choices? Hardly. Paul was boasting about these hurts, wearing them as a badge of honor. He knew he had followed God, actively choosing to step out in faith and trust the outcome. He recognized suffering for what it is—not an indicator of failure or bad choices, but an opportunity to let the Holy Spirit work in our weakness.
I don’t know what decisions you might be facing today, whether facing a cross-country move or calling a potential new friend for a cup of coffee. But I can tell you this: Failing to choose is choosing to fail. We should not live in fear of making the wrong choice, but we absolutely should fear becoming stagnant because of our refusal to choose.
Katy Epling is a writer, speaker, and “masterpiece in progress” (Ephesians 2:10) from Akron, Ohio. She and her husband Jon have three beautiful children who provide her with multitudes of material—both dramatic and comedic. Learn more about her heart and ministry at katyepling.com.
Photograph © Lindsay Henwood, used with permission