Last week, I made a decision and acted on something that has been weighing on me. Such a sense of relief followed that I began to consider writing about decision-making. I don’t feel especially qualified to do that, since I often struggle to decide. It’s not that I make bad decisions; it’s just that it can be a long and stressful ordeal.
Interestingly, it is often the pretty insignificant choices that can trip me up, things like what to order at Panera Bread or which sweeper to buy. Perhaps the culture we live in presents far too many options, when a simpler life would do. When a new department store opened in our mall, I was struck by the visual overload of SO MUCH STUFF. It takes determination for me to approach that sea of clothing and make a selection! But the problem isn’t temptation to buy more things. I just want to find one perfect thing.
A few years back, I found myself in need of a new vacuum cleaner. Despite the fact that most of our floors are bare, I was determined to find one that was powerful, durable and lightweight. So, I entered and nearly got lost in the world of on-line reviews. I spent more hours agonizing over that decision by reading the pros and cons of various makes and models than I want to tally. Probably more than it has taken me to pick a car or a house! Of course, having my husband’s wisdom and leadership in those larger purchases confirms the old adage, “Two heads are better than one.” In the decision that I acted on last week, one that was not regarding a purchase, his insight and willingness to discuss the issue with me were key.
In addition to my husband’s wise counsel, I have appreciated decision-making advice from Ben Carson’s book, “Take The Risk“. Dr. Carson advises a Best/Worst Analysis comprised or four questions.
- What is the best that could happen if I do it?
- What is the worst that could happen if I do it?
- What is the best that could happen if I don’t do it?
- What is the worst that could happen if I don’t do it?
The hopeful perspective of the best that could happen if I act often lessens my attraction to stay in my comfort zone (the best that could happen if I don’t do it). Taking the risk of GOING is what the Lord is calling me to do, after all. He is my greatest source of wisdom and leads me, like a shepherd, to the best decisions. When I ask his will in prayer, God sometimes answers with a quick yes or no. But, in his desire to mature and strengthen me, he often seems slow to answer, letting me choose to seek his will through his word, the Bible.
Our pastor shared a great “rule of thumb” for decision-making with my husband and I as we struggled with the best way to help a friend in need. He quoted the apostle Paul, saying, “Let the peace of Christ rule.” “If you don’t have peace about something, even if it seems good”, he said, “don’t do it.” With that advice and more prayer, we were able to realize that there was a middle ground between agreeing to the friend’s request and a flat refusal.
Frankly, I do not enjoy the tension of indecision, but life’s years include many large decision, and its days are full of countless small ones. I try to make healthy choices, be pretty content with what I have, and follow the Bible’s commands. Those decisions bring peace. Sometimes there is risk involved. Sometimes we make mistakes. But, for me, having the freedom to choose and having a loving, all-wise Creator who wants to show me the way makes life good.
I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may
love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. Genesis 30:19-20