12/06/2012 04:02 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2013

Take That Next Step

You can't entirely predict where certain steps will take you. When you know you're meant to take that step, however, you just need to show up and take it.

Too many of us will hem and haw over that next step, not taking it unless we can ensure its success, fretting over whether we might stumble, and second-guessing its correctness or trajectory.

I think, though, if you live a guidance-centered life, you don't often get to see the entire staircase at once, you just get to see the next step. And that's enough. It's that way for a reason. It can be frustrating not to see the entire path laid out before us. We all do love to be in control, don't we? But that's the way guidance works. And it can be a gift, too, if you think about it.

If you were shown the whole path at once, you might feel overcome with doubt and anxiety, wondering how you were going to climb such a mountain. Or you might find fault with what you saw along the path or in the destination, and come up with an infinite number of excuses as to why you shouldn't or couldn't do it.

Consequently, you would never take that next right step. You'd probably find yourself praying for shorter sight -- "Just show me the right next step, God. Don't overwhelm me with the whole picture, it's too much."

Small steps are probably our best prescription as we get ready to put momentum behind our dreams. Otherwise we shortchange ourselves in one devastating way or another.

Jesus was right when he said faith is like a mustard seed. A little bit really does go a long way, and once you've planted that seed, it grows quite strong. Taking that right next step is an act of faith and trust, and, like the mustard seed or the pebble tossed into a pond, it has far-reaching effects that build upon themselves.

For me, living a life of faith is like developing a muscle. The more I work that muscle, the keener my spiritual sight and hearing become and the more empowered I am to take those next right steps. I may not always know in the moment why I'm guided to take a certain step, especially when the world shows me something contrary to what I'm sensing, but those answers are usually revealed in the end. Faith is best placed in God, the source, not the world.

I celebrated a birthday recently, an event that marks the beginning of my new year. I'm thinking about projects I want to complete and the steps that need to be taken to move them forward. With small children in my home, I find that my enthusiasm for projects often outweighs the time I have available.

But there's more to it. I have dear friend who is an extremely talented singer and songwriter. Her voice sounds like Sade, and the lyrics she writes are profound and moving. She doesn't have small children at home anymore, and yet she has difficulty finding time to move her songs into the world.

There is a cadence and timing to life. You can't do everything at once. But some delays may be more about the internal doubts we wrestle. For my new year I've vowed to doubt my doubts, instead of doubting my dreams.

Perhaps like a good chess game you'll have the insight to see two or three moves ahead. But if not, don't sweat it. Just show up and take the right next step without delay. That will help keep the doubts and the internal wrestling to a minimum.

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