Sunday, January 10, 2016

Life's Choices Aren't All Easy, But They Are All Yours

May 26, 2015

What was the most difficult decision you have made?

Leaving a high-tech career to be a stay-at-home mom, resigning from being children's minister at my home church to be the pastor's wife at a new church, referring out potential clients in order to travel with my husband in conference ministries... those were all difficult choices, but they paid off. I was freed to discover what God has intended for me, one step at a time.

Today, I still have to make tough choices. I find out not making a choice may be passively making a choice. So I don't use "Waiting upon the Lord" as an excuse of not taking personal responsibility! 

Life is about making choices. 

Imagine bellying up to the counter at your local Haagen-Dazs and asking the server for "whatever you think I'd like."

Of course you wouldn't do that. With a veritable rainbow of ice cream flavors tempting you, making a choice might be difficult, but you'd do it. "Give me Cherries Jubilee and Chocolate Night, put the chocolate on the bottom and get a scoop with lots of cherries in it for the top."

Granted not many of life's choices are as lightweight as choosing between chocolate and vanilla, but what you choose and how you make choices, or don't make them, is as central to your self-esteem as taking responsibility for yourself.

Choices come in two flavors: Active—when you make something happen and live with the consequences, and passive—when you "choose not to choose," and continue to live with the status quo because the stakes appear too high for any changes choice might bring.

Active choices can be painful; feelings of fear and vulnerability often accompany these decisions. Just because we know what's best for us doesn't make it any easier. This kind of choice-making is risky, too. Many difficult choices don't have any absolute right or wrong; there is no perfect solution. It takes great courage to face these hard decisions.

On the other hand, the postponement of choice can have serious backlashes in the way of stress, depression, discouragement, apathy, even physical illness. Procrastination seldom has any favorable results.

Though in the end the choice is yours, getting to the place to be able to make a decision doesn't have to be a solo trip. Ask for help. Talking things out with another person can be helpful, especially someone who is on your side but has nothing at stake in your decision. Don't forget that God is always waiting for you to consult Him.

Just putting voice to your concerns may help you sort things out, and writing down the pros and cons will give you more clarity than keeping everything in your head. Getting some distance (emotional or physical) may make assessment easier, especially if that distance allows you to see the reality of the situation, rather than the way you wish it could be.

Even with thoughtful consideration, not every choice will be the right one. But wrong decisions can teach us through experience. One of the ways we learn is through the mistakes we make.

Not each of the choices you make will have profound effect on the whole of your life. But the ongoing and continuous act of making choices will.

Seeking God's will, making choices you believe in, choosing intentionally and with moral deliberation, taking responsibility for your choices, these are some of the markers to build you up as a person with conviction and commitment, like Joshua.

"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

Still worried about making choices? Remember what Jesus Christ told His disciples:

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you." (John 15:16)
Author's content used with permission, © Claire Communications

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