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3 Keys to Making Decisions and Choosing the “Right” Road

 

To hear the audio version of today’s post, click here.

When I face decisions which feel they can alter the trajectory of my life, anxiety reclines nearby. In the past I’d become consumed by making the absolute right and perfect choice. Beyond the pros and cons list, I’d play out scenarios in order to see which picture seemed most clear. Fear often spoke through these list-making sessions.

The haunting question was, “What if I make the wrong decision?”

The fact is we make hundreds of choices each day impacting the direction of our lives. We typically don’t see how big the small choices actually are.

When I choose to tell the truth rather than lie, I’ve invited righteousness to rule rather than the crushing hand of the enemy to direct my life.

When I choose to eat the broccoli rather than feast on doughnuts and soda, I’ve invited long term health rather than short term cravings.

When I choose to wake up 20 minutes early in order to read my Bible, I’ve chosen to give the first of my day to the lover of my soul rather than giving myself over to the race of life.

When I choose to hold my tongue, which is fighting to lash out, I’ve invited peace rather than chaos.

The little choices are pretty big. How do we live in our small moment choices? Are we choosing well?

But then…there’s the big ones.

A few years ago I heard a Focus on the Family episode which changed how I viewed the bigger choices in life that created extreme anxiety over choosing the absolute right one.

The guest, who I can’t remember now, said something to this effect, “God is less concerned about which path you choose than He is about who you become as you walk along that path.”

He clarified that this is when we are facing choices that are moral and in accordance with God’s will. Which job should I take, which house should I buy, which college should I attend. The choices that align with God’s will but scare us because we can’t see down the path and we want to be exactly where God wants us to be.

The statement the guest on Focus on Family made brought a deep, cleansing breath to me. It felt as if I’d been freed from the impossibility of solving life’s great mysteries. I could walk the paths I choose with confidence that as long as I’m hand in hand with God, all is well.

Buried somewhere deep inside me was this great big lie that God was standing far above me watching me squirm through the decision making process. Wringing His hands hoping I solved the puzzle and chose to walk through the door that held the prize. I would never confess that even to myself, but if I’m totally honest, I believed that God held the right answer and failed to show me which way to go. As if He was way up in the sky saying, “I hope she gets it right.”

This is such a twisted, distorted view of God. I believe it’s right in line with the view the world tends to hold of Him. Few will admit to holding views of God that are completely off-base.

The liberating statement from this Focus on the Family guest revealed to me thought-lies I harbor about the character of God. I realized that I did actually believe God withheld the right choice from me in hopes I’d get my act together and pick the right path. I also realized I must not be alone. If this guest spoke to Focus on the Family about this, I’m not alone.

My church reads through the Bible together. We read through entire books of the Bible, discuss them in small groups, listen to sermons from these readings on Sundays. Going through the Bible in small bites offers impactful digestion.

Last week I read in 1 Samuel 30 a story that I find myself continuing to think about. David and his men arrived to a town to find that the Amalekites had attacked and kidnapped everyone there. They’d taken all the women and children as prisoners. When David and his men arrived to discover what happened, they wept. David’s men were mad and bitter. Verse 6 tells us that David drew His strength from God.

At this pivotal decision making point, David refused to turn inward to himself and his natural strengths and abilities. We are told in a moment of crisis, David turned to God and found his strength.

David’s very next move after finding strength IN God was to inquire OF God.

In verse 8 David asks God if he should pursue the enemies and rescue their people.

When I read this I was struck by this question. If I’d been David I might have skipped the step of inquiring of God. Wasn’t it obvious what they were to do? Shouldn’t they go after and rescue the ones taken from them? Wasn’t that the logical choice?

But David, a man after God’s own heart, trusted in God so much that he didn’t look to the natural and logical to make a decision. He looked to God.

David listened to God’s response. God said pursue them because you will overtake them and rescue your people. This gave David the confidence, courage, and peace he needed to go this road.

 

3 Keys to Making Any Decision- the from, of, & to

  1. Strength from God
  2. Inquire of God
  3. Listen to God

When we practice the  “from, of, to” we move down any path we take with confident courageous peace. Some paths and choices we must stop and determine His will. We receive strength from Him, inquire of Him, and listen to Him.

When it’s paths that all align with His will, it’s a matter of seeking clarity then moving with confidence that we will walk with Him, not ahead of Him. Along this path we will become more like Him day by day.

What freedom He gives us in our choices. What freedom He offers in this one beautiful life.

He’s so much more than we give Him credit for.

Do you find that you, too, harbor lies about God deep inside? Lies you may never voice to anyone and you only recognize when you see how you react and respond to people, decisions, or situations?

I believe this is why God has been reminding to remember. I need to remember who He really is. When I remember, I bring to mind the truth which will shine a light on the lies that try to take up residence in our hearts. When I remember, my soul is at peace.

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audio devotional

 

Too Many Choices Suffocate a Soul

“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” Isaac Newton

The door chimed my entrance as the acetone fumes welcomed me inside.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like a pedicure please.”

“Pick your color.”

Red. Red is all I wanted. You know how many shades of red exist on the polish wall? Too many.

I picked one, then another, and one more. I tried all three on my nails. If I’d only seen the first, it would have been good enough. But now I knew that something better might be out there. Thus began my search for the best red.

My quest for the best begins to cripple my soul.

I told myself to walk away from the wall. Pick a shade. Be done, girl. I picked Cajun shrimp, which wasn’t actually red.

“Ma’am, which pedicure would you like?”

“I’m sorry, what do you mean?”

“Well, we have the hot stone pedicure, the lavender scrub pedicure, the orange peel pedicure, the ……… pedicure.” She listed about 7 different types of pedicures, and I wanted to laugh. Instead, I answered as kindly as I knew how, “I just want whichever one is like a normal pedicure.”

She proceeded to explain all the differences between each one and my brain began to spin. Now that I knew something potentially better existed I was terrified of making the wrong choice. Can one have buyer’s remorse over a pedicure? If so, it will be me.

“Ok, which is the least expensive? I’ll take that one.”

She led me to the chair and placed a remote control in my hand. More choices. What type of massage would I like? Full body or shoulders only? Hard or soft? What channel would I like to watch on the tv? Or, if I prefer, there is a stack of magazines to choose from at my side.

By the time my pedicure began, I felt mentally exhausted from decision fatigue over choices that made no difference in the quality of my day, life, or eternity.

It didn’t stop there. I stopped by Lowe’s to buy light bulbs. An entire aisle of choices. I just wanted standard bulbs. Plain and simple 40 watt bulbs. I couldn’t find them. Then I found them. But they aren’t the same anymore. There are LED, soft light, natural light, bright light, dimmable, classic styles, funky styles. Oh. My. Word. I just wanted light bulbs.

I realized I am at a decision-making breaking point when I began converting a storage room into a writing room for myself. Do you know how long I spent deciding what color to paint the concrete floor? I’m embarrassed to tell you, so I won’t. I chose white. Then the wall color. White again. Then the back and forth or what if I don’t like it.

I stopped in my favorite store in Omaha. It’s a pop up shop called Rush Market. This store speaks my language because the deals are out of this world. I walked in and the white desk sitting in the hold section beckoned me. I asked the clerk if it was sold and was informed the lady holding it had just passed. I put my name on the tag and continued shopping.

As I meandered through the store, I found another desk. Oh no. Is this one better? Do I stick with the first one? I sent a picture to Steve and my sister. They chose opposite each other. That only made the decision more difficult. I asked the clerk to switch out the desk. I changed my mind.

I continued shopping but the entire time I mentally turned over the two desk choices. Then my sister texted me to go with the same one Steve suggested. Oh no, I’d already had the clerks move the desks around the store once. I can’t believe I did this, but I got those ladies again and apologized that I’m beyond indecisive and humiliated at my own shenanigans but could they one last time switch the desks.

Then I quickly paid and left. At this point I realized something must change. This internal choice debate has gotten out of control. I can make important decisions quickly and easily. But these smaller ones consume me.

Everywhere I turn I’m faced with decisions I really don’t care to make.

I like simple. Simple. Simple. Simple.

I think all day long. I think more than I need to. I don’t want to think about things that don’t matter because I think too much about the things that do matter. And my brain needs a break.

During the course of the day, I can only imagine how many choices I’m making without realizing I’m choosing. I have to think all this mindless choosing is fatiguing my mental capabilities.

Am I choosing well when it really matters? Or am I so worn out on the insignificant choices that by the time the choices that really matter need to take place, I’m out. I don’t care. I’m decisioned to death.

When my kids come to me and need my help making a decision that is important to them, am I quick to brush it aside because I’m mentally spent? When I’m deciding on the best use of our time that evening, do I give little thought because I’m over capacity. I’m mentally tired because all day long I’m choosing and making decisions that are bit by bit wearing me down.

By the end of the day, I’m with the ones I love the most, and I’m so tired I don’t want to make one more decision.

So I think I have another decision to make. Can I find a way to simplify the daily choices that are in my control?

I stood on a stool in my closet reaching for a shirt. Andrew came up behind me. “Mom, what are you doing?”

“I’m about to try a different shirt on.”

“Not surprised.”

After he left my room, his words lingered. Not surprised.

Of course mom is trying on a different shirt despite the fact that she has one on which is perfectly fine. She is afraid she might not have made the best choice in shirts. She needs to be sure she chose the perfect one. What if the temperature changes from the forecast? What if she needs to save the one she is wearing for a different day this week?

I remember a blogger I followed about 7-8 years ago. Her blog was titled One Dress Protest. For one whole year, she wore the same thing every day. Summer, spring, winter, fall. She chose a black dress that she could put leggings under in the winter. She could add a scarf or a necklace to change up the look.

It was part statement and part protest on her behalf. I don’t really know what her goals were, but her idea appealed to me. I was just never brave enough to wear the same thing every single day for a year.

So you know what I did last week? I tested it out. I chose my very favorite shirt. Black, cozy, can be dressed up or down, can even be worn with athletic pants. One shirt, one pair of jeans, one pair of athletic pants. That was it for 3 days.

I don’t think anyone noticed. I mean I live with all males, so they wouldn’t notice. Besides saving myself 30 minutes in the closet, mentally my morning felt clearer, crisper. I felt empowered rather than wearied at the start of the day. I was ready for the decisions that mattered because I simplified the ones that didn’t.

What is one thing that you find daily stresses you out to decide on? Clothes, dinner, activities? Is it social media? Choosing what to read, what to land on, which platform to spend your time scrolling on? Is it possible to choose the way of simple if even for a time?

Maybe you give yourself a break from that one thing for one week. For me it was choosing one outfit for a few days. For you it might be drastically different. I imagine in each of our lives, there are areas we could simplify by eliminating our choices.

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” ~ Frederic Chopin

Maybe we’ve bought into the notion that more is better. Maybe there is something to the theory of “less is more”.

Maybe we become more of who we really are when we courageously walk in simple steps along simple paths.

Because you know what? I’m not really the grumpy grumbler who emerges from the closet amongst heaps of discarded choices. If the constant choosing is creating in me someone I am not, maybe that is a hint from my soul that one small step toward simplification could be all that is required.

Maybe when we choose the simple path, removing stuff and clutter and choices, we are finally able to see the beauty that has been buried alive.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried with the weight of too many choices and decisions that don’t bear their own weight in importance.

Maybe parts of our soul have been buried by the debt to create the Pinterest perfect home.

Maybe parts of our soul have died under the suffocation of the pursuit of the best choice for fear of failing in some area of our life.

Maybe a step to the reviving of our soul is to stop allowing choices, and decisions, and stuff to clutter our lives.

Maybe it can’t be forever, but maybe our soul would find relief from a simple reprieve from the daily grind of too many insignificant choices.

Maybe this is the break we need to clear the clutter in our minds in order to see the simple beauty of life. To allow ourselves to awaken to who He created us to be. Maybe our greatest expressions are found when we walk and live in simplicity.

And really, what do we have to lose if it’s a failed experiment? If you are brave enough to choose one area to eliminate choice and decision so you can simplify your life and choose well in the areas that matter, I’d love for you to share the results with me.