The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions
by Emily P. Freeman
Who isn’t weighed down by unresolved decisions, whether big or small, significant or trivial? Emily Freeman nails it in the very first chapter when she states, “Unmade decisions hold power.” Her excellent book explores with breadth and creativity the nuance of both small and life-changing decision-making.
One aspect of her book that I enjoyed was its structure of twenty-four short chapters, which allowed me to read the entire book, chapter-by-chapter, day-by-day, as a devotional experience. While each entry relates to one another, Freeman avoids a formulaic approach to the constant challenge of endless decisions. Instead, she lays a framework for both moving through the process of decision-making and living with the uncertainty that is inevitable as limited humans that don’t know the future.
The Next Right Thing recognizes that God rarely gives a strategic plan for our future. Often, God only gives us light for the next step. “As you take your next right step today, trust that God won’t let you miss your own future.”
Two themes ring throughout The Next Right Thing. First, creating space is necessary for the work of discernment. Lives filled with clutter, schedules rushed with no breathing room, foster shallow poorly thought-out conclusions. Second, good questions lead to good decisions. Simple questions pondered deeply clarify muddled thoughts. “What do you want more?” “Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?”
Freeman’s book is one of those gems that was worthy of my time to outline. I copied all of my highlights and found that even in my process of writing this review that the wise lessons she encourages took deeper root. While her focus is the struggle to wade through difficult decisions, The Next Right Thing’s value goes much further. It is a guide to living a spacious life amid confusing voices and mixed motivations. Early in the book, she states, “The decision is rarely the point.” Quoting Dallas Willard, “The most important thing about you is not the things you achieve but the person you become.” The Next Right Thing is an excellent next step toward that becoming.