I know you guys are probably sick of hearing me preach on obedience, especially on such obvious sins. But that’s too bad. Just kidding! I do have so many things that God is purging from my life right now, and I have a zillion posts I want to write about how obedience is freeing me from so much bondage and taking my faith to new heights. But for today, I feel like I need to write about something different.
I guess this technically still ties in with obedience, but God keeps speaking to me about this word specifically, hammering my brain with it like Woody Woodpecker. Which for the record, I can not STAND. (I mean Woody Woodpecker, not God speaking)
If you hadn’t guessed from reading my other posts, I suffer from anxiety. Making decisions can sometimes grip me with unreasonable fear. The question, What do you want for dinner, can send me into an hour-long deliberation. When it comes to important stuff, like how do I handle the crap my kid just pulled, I get stuck. Cuz parenting, discipline in particular, is never as black and white as books and sitcoms make it seem. Or maybe it is, but my equally dominate sense of Justice and Mercy seem to be forever in battle, eternally in overtime with no winner in sight. Punishment in my house usually ends up with one or both kids bewildered and not sure if they won or lost, and me stewing over what I should have done and regretting my decision to not keep alcohol in the house anymore. I often wonder what the heck God was thinking when he entrusted children into my care. Days later, and much too late, it becomes obvious to me how I should have handled the situation. But in the heat of the moment, I just can’t perform.
In case you’re thinking I’m a total dingbat, I have learned over time, and through the patient help of my love, Justin, to send them to their rooms and sweat bullets until I am calm and collected enough to make a decision on discipline. Maybe the pressure of thinking on your feet is not as difficult for you, but I think we all wrestle with making hard choices at one point or another.
Sometimes, there is a clear right and wrong answer, and while the wrong answer might be tempting, we at least know. We are at least somewhat prepared to face the consequences, good or bad, when the paths are clearly marked.
But sometimes, the choices are not so clearly marked. There’s a million ways to discipline a child. Some are very clearly wrong. Maybe eight. Eight are quite obviously terrible. The other 999, 992 however, are very open to interpretation. It’s like a horrific guessing game. Which one leads my child to greatness, which one leads to him being like that kid Damien in The Omen? There’s no way to tell!
As someone who is admittedly the absolute worst at making decisions, after much prayer, lots of mistakes and lessons learned, I’ve come up with a sort of formula. You know how much I love formulas! Well, really it’s a list. Whatever. If you’re as bad at making choices as I am, you may find this helpful.
Before making any decision, I ask myself (in theory) these five questions:
Will I regret this if I don’t do it?
Notice how the questions is NOT Will I regret this if I do it, because that is always a possibility. That question will lead to anxiety. But if I don’t try, will I look back and wish I had?
Will making this choice strengthen my walk with God, or weaken it?
God will never lead us into an area of temptation, he will never lead to you a place that opposes his word. His path will lead to victory, not destruction.
Will making this choice strengthen those in my sphere of influence in their relationship with God, or weaken it?
Note : your sphere of influence begins with your spouse, then your children, then your close friends and family, then others. Do not be deceived by the argument that your choice will grow your sphere of influence and opportunity to reach others for Christ if it means bankrupting your time and influence on your family. They are your first and most important mission!
Will this choice stretch me beyond my comfort zone in a way that will build endurance, strength and character?
God does not keep us stagnant. Even in periods of rest, we are required to let go of some earthly reliance and stretch our faith in God as our ultimate provider. Beware of the easy path, it often leads to self-sufficiency and far, far away from God’s destiny for us.
Does making this choice align with God’s Word?
This should probably be the very first question you ask, but ultimately every answer needs to be a yes. We have a way of twisting God’s word to suit our carnal desires. So if this is the only yes, dig a little deeper into the Word. The other questions are congruent with God’s will for us, so they should match up. If this is the only no, abide by God’s Word.
I ask myself these five questions anytime I am faced with a big decision. Or a small one. Honestly, this can apply even to the, What do you want for dinner question. Making a healthy dinner at home with my family gets a yes answer to each of these questions. Especially the building endurance part. Just kidding. Sort of. Getting Wendy’s does not. Ok, ok that might be going a little overboard, but you know what I mean!
I don’t know what kind of choices you are faced with making today. I do know that it doesn’t need to be scary. God is with you and for you. Nothing you do is powerful enough to ruin God’s plans. He is more interested in watching you grow than waiting to see if you pick the right choice like a needle in a haystack. So if that’s you, if that’s how you feel, welcome to the club, but also, get out. You belong in the club of peace, joy and security in Christ. If you’re feeling panicky about a decision, start by checking it against these five questions. Make that a habit. It’s changed the way I’ve handled many choices. I hope this helps someone today.
Thanks for reading everyone, happy Thursday!
Meme by Justin 😉