I had a really difficult time writing this article, mostly because The Clash’s song was swirling around in my head. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, look up the band’s song catalog. And how dare you. Just kidding.
Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.
Have you ever stopped to consider how many decisions you make on any given day? Most may seem relatively inconsequential or mundane. But there are those that can have significant impact on your present and your future: a new job, a new home, a new relationship are just a few examples.
But what do you do when you can’t decide?
Am I the only one who spends way too much time in the valley of indecision? Caught between a rock and a hard place (or any cliché you may like), you honestly don’t know what to do. Some choices are clear. Others are not.
The most difficult ones I encounter are when neither option holds enough appeal to me. What do I mean? If I stay in a current situation, whatever it may be, I have a certain level of comfort. Whether or not I like it, I basically know what to expect. Don’t get me wrong. I might not like it, but at least it’s familiar. If I decide to go or change or do something else, now it’s a whole new ball game (or any cliché you may like). I can only guess or speculate what’s coming. There’s no predictability or certainty.
Some people find the thrill of the unknown exhilarating or exciting. I find it nauseating and anxiety inducing. Perhaps it’s a curse of being a writer. I tell stories. I have to fill the void with something, so I create several different narratives of how things could go. Let me put a finer point on it. I don’t know how things will go, but I’ll spend the next few hours, days, weeks contemplating and scripting in my brain how it could go.
This exercise in futility can, and often has, left me numb. The process is sometimes described as the paralysis of analysis. I can’t move forward with any decision because I’ve scared myself into inaction.
I like stability, predictability, constants. I also like trying new things and having new experiences. I guess you could say I don’t mind trying something new or doing something different if I know upfront that I’ll enjoy it and it’ll work out well. But you can’t always know that ahead of time. Let’s face it, you typically don’t know that at all.
Now let’s take a look at relationships. Entering into a new one, knowing when it may be time to let go of an existing one, all of it makes my head spin! And I haven’t even mentioned how my heart handles any of this. (Spoiler alert: not well, not well at all.)
Do you ask for advice or do you go it alone?
I usually will seek counsel when faced with a difficult decision. These days it’s a bit more challenging. My Dad was the wisest man I may ever know. I could always go to him for rational discussion on any issue. Well, let me correct that. He’d be rational; I’d be an emotional wreck. He was very reasoned, measured and beyond patient with me. He wouldn’t try to make my decision for me, but would have me go through the pros and cons of each option. Honestly, the only time he would tell me what he would do is if I specifically asked him, “Pops, what would you do?” Even then he was slow to answer, trying to not influence my decision. I have so much respect for him.
When I reach out to my girlfriends, especially if it concerns romance or friendships, I always enjoy the dialog. They’re great sounding boards, but rarely objective. God bless them. They’re biased toward me, so if a relationship is hurting me or causing pain, they want to protect me. I completely understand. I do the same for them. It’s hard to remain objective when emotions are involved.
Where can you go for a balanced approach to making your decision?
If you’ve read any of my work, you probably know the answer already:
I’ve said numerous times the Word of God is a guidebook for life. Though the details may change, life isn’t really very different from what it was in Biblical times. No, I may not be herding sheep or going to a well for water (yet), but the core issues of life are fairly timeless: family, faith, finances, health, etc. These subjects are universal. There is common ground to be found.
You know I’m bringing receipts as always. (Unless otherwise indicated, all verses are from biblegateway.com NIV, emphasis added.)
Let’s start with some verses to encourage:
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
We plan but the Lord establishes. This doesn’t mean our plans are for nothing, but it’s a healthy reminder to always be checking in with God. I can’t say enough how spending time in His presence daily makes all the difference. And if you sincerely dedicate your life, your plans to Him from the start (or even now), He’ll establish them.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
A lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Have you ever tried walking down a road without any streetlights? I have and I’ve gotten the scraped knees to prove it! Without a lit path, it’s very easy to get injured or get lost. The Bible is the Light. Read it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Bring your requests to Him in prayer and petition and with thanksgiving. This means our approach can’t be whining or complaining (though sometimes I do start out that way when I’m stressed or frustrated). I have to remind myself how amazing it is that God is listening and actually cares about me. My pity party is over fairly soon after.
OK, now that we’ve been encouraged, it’s time to learn the lesson. Check out these verses:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
I needed this verse as I was writing this piece. It’s a great, gentle reminder to remember what you already know. For me it means reflecting not only on what I’ve learned but what I’ve experienced. I’ve seen God move in my life and the lives of others around me. I’ve experienced His grace, mercy and favor more times than I can count. Sometimes you have to remember how good He’s been to acknowledge how good He is.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:7-10)
This verse is bit heavy in tone which is why I saved it for last. It’s sobering to consider the concept of sowing and reaping. It’s also strangely comforting. When we see people being selfish and self-serving and succeeding, we may get jealous. But when we consider the implications and ramifications of this verse, we should rethink our position. I don’t know about you, but with whatever time I have left on this earth, I want to sow to please the Spirit (the Holy Spirit that is).
So am I giving you a 5-step plan to make the best decisions? Nope. Am I saying you’ll never spend time in the valley of indecision? Nope. What I am saying is when you are confused or unsure where to go or what to do; it’s the perfect time to get alone with God. Yes, you can certainly seek advice from good counsel. You can make your pros and cons list, if it applies to the situation. In the end, however, remember God loves you and it’s always a matter of trust. You may not know in the moment if the decision you made was the right one, but you know the One who can establish your plans. Rest in that today.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you,