November 12, 2012

When You Feel Like You've Made a Big Mistake

Rearranging furniture last night, my husband and I stood in our empty living room and remembered the day we bought this house. Our first house.

Overwhelmed by page after page of legalese, we had finally escaped the attorney’s office, key in hand, and walked into our new purchase. We sat on the floor in this very living room, on the still-here, vine-patterned rug left by its former owner, and we both almost cried. What had we done?

Surely the room was too small. The backyard too wooded. The ceilings too high. The kitchen too big.

We were thankful. But given this new responsibility, we were convinced we had made a mistake.

This same sinking feeling has re-occurred at almost every significant moment of my adult life. When I was veiled and poised to walk down the aisle on my wedding day. When my husband said yes to a church in Mississippi. When we left the hospital with one small person, and a social worker’s office with two others. Each time, I thought: What have we done? We are making a big mistake.

And, oddly, I am thankful for that feeling.

For one thing, I think it’s a common human experience, and, having had it myself, I can empathize with others. This weekend I was talking to an expectant mom. She had just gotten a call that a birthmother was in labor with the child they would both call “mine.” My friend called me for advice. Skipping the soy formula, co-sleeping, and skin-care lectures I could have given, I said instead: “No matter how much you wanted this baby, you might have some long hours when you think you’ve made a mistake. And that’s okay.”

It’s okay, because we serve a faithful God who is often pleased to turn what looks like a big mistake (or at least a scary question mark) into a platform for His glory.

Over time, I have seen firsthand how the Lord works all things. This tiny house, amazingly, stretched and fit—even when our family more than doubled. That young groom at the altar turned out to be the man who has done more to make me holy than any other human being. And those children? Well, what else sanctifies like children? And what else belly-laughs?

And these past blessings have been precious reminders when I face each new unknown.

We make life’s decisions through Word-study and prayer and wise counsel and God-given reason. And then, we trust. We trust that even in the “uh-oh” feeling we have something to learn about our dependence on a loving and sovereign God.

Human unknowns are fully known to the Lord. And, for each new endeavor, we trust not in our own abilities, but in the Lord who has led us here. That uncertain, sinking feeling is a reminder to trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6


  1. I am in favor of thorough, responsible research. But even if you read every book on the subject, pepper every expert you meet with questions and stay up all night reading Internet advice, big decisions come down to trust. There is no better place to put your trust than in the all-knowing
    Creator who lovingly cares for His children. Seek Him first.

  2. Beautifully said! Great reminder and what an encouragement when we feel uncertain. We serve a sovereign God!

  3. I can think of several of those times in my life! Thanks for your honesty and openness and great reminders of truth!


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