We all have them. Sometimes we don’t like them, and we want to run from them. Other times we fight for our right to make them. Often, we enjoy the sense of empowerment that comes with them.
Some decisions are not complicated at all. Others are seriously complex. Many of the decisions we make last only for a moment. Then there are those that create a ripple effect for a lifetime. Ever found yourself in a situation where you were forced to make a decision that you absolutely did not want to make? I distinctly remember being in that spot many years ago, when a crisis in my life placed me at a crossroad. I was forced to pick a path. It presented a serious quandary – I had never faced a decision so complex, and I had many questions, with no concrete answers. This was one of those ripple effect decisions. You know, the kind that affects you and other people too, for a long, long, long, time. Talk about pressure.
As a recovering people pleaser, this was a decision I did not want to make. It was the kind that I knew, regardless of the choice I made, someone was going to feel hurt. I was not happy that someone else’s choices were impacting me in such a way, that now I was forced to make a choice. I was trying to practice radical acceptance, but I was struggling. Knowingly choosing a path that causes anyone pain, is excrutiating for me. However, I was also learning, in my own recovery from the disease to please, that it was unhealthy for me to hold myself responsible for the feelings of others. It’s important to consider how our choices impact people, but differentiating between being responsbile for someone, and being responsible to someone can make the difference between mental health life and death. I still wrestle with that.
I did everything I knew to do that seemed to add up to solid decision-making steps. I examined the possible risks and benefits. I sought the wise counsel of people I trusted and respected. I prayed. I waited for that sense of knowing. Time went by. No answer. I examined on a deeper level. I extended my base of trusted advisers. I prayed longer. I waited more. Nothing. Desperation set in with the pressure from others to make a decision. I began to beg God to drop a Memo in my lap. I sighed aloud in frustration, hoping He would hear me. I was restless. Anxious. I needed to make a decision. My indecision was a decision, and I had no peace. And no Memo from God.
Then I remembered; He actually did drop off a Memo to me. It was a long time ago, but the words He penned are timeless. I picked up my Bible, and I found more than just a one-time solution to my current dilemma. I discovered a concept that can be applied to any decision-making process, anytime, anywhere. I found it in James 3:17: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”.(NIV)
As I read these words, I saw the recipe for a wise decision: one that is based on pure motives, peaceful intentions, love, consideration of others, patience, mercy, impartiaity, and sincerity. If it has those seven ingredients, it’s going to produce wisdom. Using this verse as a guideline, I started asking myself some questions; are my motives pure or am I leaning toward a choice out of bitterness, anger, or resentment? (It’s never a good idea to make a decision when we are charged with toxic emotions.) Would my decision promote peace? Would my decision leave room for the consideration of others involved, or would it involve being thoughtless or rude to others? Down the checklist I went. The result was a wise decision. How do I know? Peace. When you walk through James 3:17, you enter the pathway to peace in the next verse: “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 (NIV)
When I am feeling anxious because I have a difficult decision to make, I read the Memo. It doesn’t mean decisions will always be easy, but it does simplify the process for me.
Hope whispers, There is peace in wisdom.
Next time you have to make a complicated or difficult decision, and you need some wisdom, I hope you find that Memo from God as helpful as I have. Yes, He cc’d you on it.
What decision-making process do you use to assist you with difficult choices?