The teacher waited for someone to answer. My classmates looked at each other, and a few of them shifted in their seats. I knew the answer. At least, I was fairly certain I knew. But I was not going to risk embarrassing myself by being wrong, so I sat on my hands.
It turns out I was right.
Maybe it is my nature as a perfectionist, but I often wonder if I’m discerning God’s will correctly. I pray, I read scripture, and I think I have God’s answer. But I’m sometimes afraid to take action because of the questions bouncing around my mind.
What if I do the wrong thing? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I embarrass myself?
These questions fertilize doubt, and it is one of Satan’s best tools for getting me to remain frozen and ineffective. In addition, I’ve elevated my fear of being wrong over my trust in God. When God directs, I need to follow his instructions, even if I feel unsure. I may discover I was right.
But what if I’m seeking God with all my heart and make a mistake in discerning his will? In that case I have to remember God’s character, and Psalm 103 offers some reassuring insights.
First, the Lord knows I’m a fragile human being (verse 14). One weakness might be misunderstanding him from time to time. Second, God is kind and compassionate to those who fear him (verses 14 and 17). Trying and failing to find God’s will is much different from not trying or caring, and God knows the difference. Finally, God is not surprised by my mistake because he is sovereign (verse 19). He already has a plan to use my mistake for good (Romans 8:28). So what do these truths mean for a fearful perfectionist?
They mean I’m free to be wrong.