I can remember as if it were yesterday. I was making a decision on if I wanted to move to Las Vegas for a new job back in 2005. I had a job in Tampa and was just getting out of a long-term relationship. I was very confused on if I should stay or if I should go. I can remember a colleague and friend coming into my office and closing the door because he knew that I was grappling with the decision. He asked me “What do you want to do?” I replied, “I really don’t know.” It was such a tough decision.
Throughout life we are faced with decisions that ultimately determine not only our path but also how our lives unfold. Sometimes we reach those proverbial forks in the road where we are not sure which direction to go. Some of us anxiously worry and stress over the decision. Some of us look to the opinions of others to help make the choice. Some don’t make a decision at all but stay right where they are, perhaps turning to some sort of vice to numb out the loudness of things.
In my walk with faith and in my sobriety, I have been faced with many life-changing decisions. At the time, they seemed like huge mountains I would have to climb, but as I look back I realize that those tough decisions made me stronger. They stretched me as a person. They took me out of my comfort zone and made me rely more heavily on my faith. Over time, I have developed a non-formal system of how to make a tough decision.
When I need clarity on how to proceed, the first thing I do is pray about it. I ask for guidance and for God to speak to me. I ask that he would help me to see his plan for my life and to not only see it but to want it also. I ask for my heart to be cleansed of anything selfish or self-seeking so that I can see the decision for what it truly is.
I also try to weigh out the pros and cons of the situation. I know it sounds cliché and silly, but I can’t tell you how many times my pros and cons lists have been instrumental in helping me to see things. There is something about having the columns next to each other on paper, where you begin to clearly see how one may outweigh the other.
Next, I try to take my ego out of it. I make a real effort to put my pride to the side and to take into consideration how others may be impacted by my decisions. This is one of the hardest things to do, because here we are trying to make a decision for our lives, however sometimes when you account for others, more clarity is gained.
Part of the process also entails envisioning what the decision might look like in both directions for the future. I try to ask myself if this path or the other path ultimately leads me to where I want to be. This requires that we know what our goals are in life and that we have a vision of our future. When making a decision, we always want to choose based on what is in alignment with our goals.
A profound piece of this process is asking: “How do I want to feel?” “How will this make me feel?” Because at the end of the day, everything we do is based on a feeling. Are we looking for the decisions to fill us up with an emotion we feel we are missing or need more of? And as crazy as it sounds, sometimes taking the emotion out of the decision can also help to see what is truly best.
After dissecting all of these viewpoints, I come back to prayer. I get really quiet and I just listen. Usually my spirit is already speaking to me. I’ve found that sometimes we cover up decisions and weigh them down with layers because we are too afraid to go with our gut instinct. Sometimes you just have to ask, “What do I really want?” and then pay attention to what your initial response is.
Going back to my decision to move to Vegas. After I had replied that I really didn’t know what to do, what he said next changed my life. He told me: “You know sometimes when you don’t know what to do, it’s best not to do anything at all. Sometimes what God wants you to do is to just be still. Be still and let the answers come to you.”
And in that moment, a sense of calmness came over me as tears welled up in my eyes. I realized that I didn’t have to make a decision immediately and that if I wasn’t certain that perhaps the best thing to do was to be still. I had to trust that the answer would come in time and take a step back. The pressure was off when I realized I didn’t have to force myself into something I wasn’t certain of. Shortly after, in the stillness, I decided not to move.
We are presented with decisions every day. Some are subconscious and some seem like soaring mountains before our eyes. It’s okay to take our time in making decisions and in fact, there is peace in knowing that we do have a choice. Sometimes even if that choice is to just be still.
Remember, too, that indecision is also a decision. So, extend grace to yourself next time you are faced with a challenging situation where you’re not sure what to do. Grace in that no matter what you decide, you can always find your way because nothing is permanent. Our decisions are never more powerful than God. Therefore, nothing can change what is truly meant for us even if we get off track. May you find rest and peace in all your decisions: big, small, tough and easy. Namaste.
Photo Credit: 1MS