Here are two questions I am always asking myself: “What am I doing wrong?” and “What should I be doing?”

The positive side of this is that when I do the wrong thing I can take responsibility and learn from my mistakes.

There are two things I strongly believe:

  1. It’s very important to try and do the right thing in every situation.
  2. Feeling a little old fashioned guilt and shame isn’t always a bad thing, because they can lead a person to change her ways. (Check this link for more on the difference between conviction and condemnation).

But… a mind dominated by the cycle of 1) try to be perfect, 2) make a mistake and 3) feel horrible guilt and shame is an unhappy one, and I have been stuck in it many times before. It’s a delicate balance I’m still trying to master. Here’s the new cycle I want to develop: 1) make a mistake, 2) ask forgiveness, 3) remember that God loves me and 4) move on.

God doesn’t expect me to be perfect. Funny how I can know that with my mind but not feel that in my heart. Yes, He wants holiness, but holiness is more about the heart than doing everything right all the time. God knows everything about us already and still loves us. As we get to know His character more, we learn to love Him more and more; our desires change and we become more like Him. That makes a heart holy.

So when I do something wrong it’s good to ask those questions. But what about when things just go wrong- from a flat tire to sickness to dreams deferred or denied? When these things happen my default is to obsessively ask those two questions when the answer to both of them might be “nothing.” Or maybe there is no answer- for now.

The constant questioning in these moments of uncertainty places too much emphasis on me- What did I do wrong? What should I do differently? If I can get answers then I feel that I can control the situation. Of course, in reality I can’t know or understand or control everything. This is the time to focus my thoughts on the character of the One who is worthy of my trust (Proverbs 3:5-7, Psalm 33:4).

God lavishes extravagant love on us. He calls us to love Him, delight in Him, rest in Him, and hide in Him in times of trouble. I trust Him to forgive me when I do wrong; it seems so much harder to have faith in Him when things aren’t going the way I want them to. That is the very faith that pleases Him, though (Hebrews 11:6).

There is a time for questions, but when you hear nothing, take some time to be still. The Lord will show you what to do, even if it is simply to rest (Psalm 46:10).