Life forces us to make many, many decisions on a daily basis. There are so many times when we’re faced with What to do? What to do? Things can get a little panicky and definitely produce anxiety on what seems like a regular schedule.
We’ve all been there, and sometimes, there isn’t time to shilly-shally around. A decision needs to be made now, this instant, like every decision all responsible drivers have to make every time we get behind the wheel of any size vehicle. The first decision is: Do I fasten my seatbelt or not? Well, it might depend on the purpose of your trip, but amazingly, too many people choose not to invest in their own future. And the law expects us to fasten our seatbelts, so…it almost sounds like a no-brainer before you get into traffic itself.
In my younger years, I was surprised when a high-level manager told me that driving a car is proof of decision-making ability. In other words, you don’t just need to have commanded troops or been a Girl Scout leader to prove you have decision-making experience. You begin with what you already know and do, starting with the decision to study for your driver’s license instead of being an idiot and trying to drive without one.
Other non-driving decisions can also come with a “Decide Now” tag on them and tend to be in the realm of life-or-death or injury-avoidance situations: Grabbing a child’s hand instead of expecting one too young to obey your command not to step into the street or touch the hot stove. Of course, we tell them not to do it anyway but have to reinforce that with action of our own.
Less Urgent Decisions
Most decisions are less urgent and require a little more consideration. Maybe we have to count to ten first, or to fifty, before answering another dumb, thoughtless question. And yes, Virginia, there are dumb, thoughtless questions, no matter what an instructor might tell you, hoping to make you feel confident about speaking up in class:
- Keep quiet long enough and the class clown will prove there are still dumb questions, even when you’re 67 years old.
- Listen to any bachelor tell how many times his mother has asked him when he’s going to find a nice girl and settle down. Sometimes he doesn’t want to and at other times, the right person hasn’t come along.
- Hear any childless couple relate how many church members quiz them about their lack of offspring. It’s no one else’s business but the meddlers don’t give up poking their noses in anyway. And sometimes, the “decision” is beyond individual control and in God’s hands.
If we choose our questions carefully, we’re less likely to embarrass ourselves or infuriate others.
Some decisions are very serious and can cause a lot of unhappiness if we don’t think things through:
- Accepting an engagement ring six weeks after meeting someone might not be the brightest decision for you but other friends got engaged a week after meeting, so you think there’s no harm in going down a similar path. Maybe. Maybe not. That’s the kind of decision that requires pondering and prayer, and perhaps fasting for a day to better feel the Lord’s guidance.
- When your employer has made working conditions difficult, do you ride out the storm in hopes of calmer water ahead? Or do you know from prior experience that business consolidations always result in the loss of jobs? Do you keep your resume current or wait to get blindsided like your colleagues were? Do you sign up for classes in an unrelated field?
Decisions Later in Life
When we’ve passed the point of no return in our lives, when life’s steep path leads only forward and Upward, decision-making becomes more difficult and often critical:
- Recommended surgeries don’t seem the answer they might once have been, yet miracles do still happen and we can’t move too far from good medical centers.
- Selling our home and buying a beautiful manufactured home will have its drawbacks, like ever-increasing space rent.
- Financial advisors don’t have all the answers, especially when it comes to our small IRAs and/or the stock market.
- Friends giving conflicting advice can sometimes get bossy and strain relationships.
- Dealing with pestering contractors (licensed or otherwise) gets very stressful. If I had the money to fix that, it wouldn’t look like that, now would it? I’m not the dummy here.
- Moving away from long-time friends is hurtful and demoralizing and generally not recommended by geriatric specialists. Following those who have moved already can be its own bad decision. What if they move again?
Watching our peers and family members pass on ahead of us is disconcerting. We will soon become one of the lonely people, like the Beatles’ Father McKenzie darning his socks by candlelight. And yet, we keep going. We maintain contact with the outside world but now it is on our terms. If we’re too tired to attend a seminar or a church social, we bail out. If we’re too sick to make the long drive to visit our spouse’s grave, we postpone the trip to a better time.
We plan and pay for our own funeral that’s still down the road, so that others will be spared that burden. We also do it so we won’t wind up in a pauper’s grave with the county. Even as respectful as the county is with the mass burials of cremains, they cannot do anything else with a deceased person never claimed by a spouse or a blood relative.
Decisions. They never cease but we can make them thoughtfully, absorbing just so much from experts and going to the source of all wisdom for His help. Sometimes, God’s answers are slow in coming, painfully so. Sometimes the answer is No or Not now, and once in a while, it is Yes.