Monday, July 30, 2012

Making Decisions

Making decisions. How does one go about doing so?

First, you study it out in your mind, in your heart (Doctrine and Covenants 9) , and (for me) on paper. Or the blog. Or out loud to friends and family. Or in the shower. Or to my husband when he's trying to sleep at night.

Second, you make a decision. The one you came to after doing all the studying and writing and talking.

Third, you pray about it and ask Heavenly Father if the decision you made is correct. If you have a stupor of thought or if you feel yucky inside or if you just feel confused and wrong, your answer is wrong. That would be Heavenly Father telling you, "EH! Try again" or "Not right now" or "Nope, you got it wrong."

So you do it all over again (steps one through three), although sometimes it's shorter this time (or as simple as switching the answer to the other one, especially if it's an either/or question). And then you ask again. And if the answer is correct, you feel peace. You feel warmth and goodness inside. You see clearly. It makes sense (even if it doesn't make sense. Does that make sense?).

The hard part, for me, is always making the decision. I'm a waffler. I go back and forth. When we go out to eat, Brandon gives me a normal amount of time to choose my dish, and then when the server comes to take our order, I know I will order last and I only have that specific amount of time to decide. It works really well, actually!

Luckily, I'm getting better at making decisions. I'm good at picking meals in restaurants or when shopping for shoes. I know what I like when it comes to music, clothing, and jewelry. So, when do I have a problem with decision making? When it comes to big decisions. Big choices. I have a much harder time deciding when it involves other people (or if the outcome affects other people). I don't want to make the wrong choice.

But, hello!? If I'm following the format of decision-making (one that has been outlined by God, Himself) then why in the world would I be afraid of making the wrong choice? If I make the wrong choice, He'll let me know. If I make the right choice, He'll let me know.

This is why faith and fear don't belong together in the same sentence (let alone the same person). Either you have faith that God will guide, or you have fear that you won't understand God or He's not really God or He won't guide you. Or you can't handle the answer.

Bingo! Usually, when fear and faith collide, it's because you know what the answer will probably be, but you can't handle it. You don't want to hear it. So, you don't ask. You waffle or ignore or continue on in the way you always have. You keep doing what you were doing and you don't change or don't make a decision. Then you won't have to face the answer you didn't want to hear.

This happened more than once with my husband (I hope he forgives me for talking about this!). A couple of times I came to him and said, "Brandon, I believe it is time for us to have another baby."
Him: "Okay?"
Me: "Go pray about it."
Him: "Okay."
A few days later I would ask him if he prayed about it. His response: "Umm, I'll pray about it later." A few days later I would come to him and ask him if he prayed about it. He would answer, "Sigh, no. You already know the answer and so do I --let's have a baby."

It didn't happen every time (and please don't assume my husband refuses responsibility in the baby-decision making in our relationship, because it's not true), but I share this to illustrate something: He already knew the answer, but he wasn't ready (or willing?) at the time to hear the answer.

I've done this a lot, too. I can't face the answer, so I don't ask the question. But I want to change this, and so I'm attempting concerted efforts towards the big decision making process --even though it's hard (all natural-man-like-ey). Sometimes, I'm still not sure I want to hear the answer.

How have you approached the decisions in your life? Have you ever ignored a "no" answer? Have you refused to ask because you knew the answer you would get? Have you been blessed for choosing and following a "yes" answer?


siobhan said...

the baby thing happens here. except he says he's done and we're done and i say, "okay! pray about it and let me know!" and then we have another baby because he and i both know we're not really done. :)

i'm really bad at making decisions. i function best with an imminent deadline and then just go with my gut. it's something i'm trying to teach my kids about because i don't think my parents helped me learn how to make decisions as a kid. as it is, i have one daughter who would rather go without a present than be forced to choose between two. :\

Mary said...

What if you have an either/or question and you follow the steps and you get the confused ~ not sure type feeling. So you than assume that the other choice is right. Follow the steps again, and again, get the confused~ not sure type feeling?
I am at this point right now. Something I have been trying to get an answer to for awhile. I have finally come to the conclusion that maybe both answers are right? I will be blessed no matter what I choose. I will have happiness, and peace either way. Both paths are good, fine and right. But it's up to me to practice my free agency and choose which path I want.
But in this decision, I don't want to make the choice. I want it made for me! I'm afraid if I choose one way, I'll always wonder about "what if?"
This is too hard! I don't know which way to go. And so I do nothing and just keep praying for inspiration. Praying for peace. Praying for guidance. Praying that when I DO make a choice, I'll be at peace with it. And I know I will. I just have to bring myself to make the choice..

Cheryl said...

Mary, It could be both answers are right or both are wrong, but you are right --you need to make the decision and then act. Sometimes, acting leads us to the right conclusion, too!

Mary said...

Yes, but when I choose one way, and start moving towards that and acting on the choice, I start getting messages and feelings that the OTHER is the way to go. So I then start moving towards that choice and acting then, lo and behold, again! Messages and feelings to go the OTHER way!
And I know the logical thought then is that neither are right. Without going into details all I can say is that's not the case. They are both right. Just which one am I supposed to choose?
Right now I'm leaning towards one. I guess we'll wait and I'll pray for the affirmation I need.
( maybe some of the confusion is thinking that the comflicting messages are just my thoughts and feelings. And not fron the Lord.
It can be hard to separate what's coming from me and what's coming from the Lord.)
( and then there's the thought," What if I make this choice and move on. And the Lord is saying," Oh! If only you had held on a little longer, the test would be over and you would have had.....!".
But then, maybe thinking that is what's holding me back
Maybe thinking I will have.....if I wait a little longer is detrimental to my progression.
How do I know if holding on is the right or wrong choice? How do I know if letting go is the right or wrong choice?)
I'm not really expecting an answer here. But it helps to write it down and ponder some more.....

Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl,

We don't know each other but I found your blog through a friend's and 'lurk' sometimes.
I am not an active LDS church member and although sometimes your views differ from mine I admire you for always having well thought out and researched opinions, beliefs, etc.
For some reason this post spoke to me - especially the 'faith and fear' part. I always wrestle with the toughest decisions and all my fears (what if I make the wrong choice, what if I fail, what if I humiliate myself, etc, etc, etc) and then suddenly - boom. I let it go and let faith and reason guide me and it works out. Sometimes after a long and painfully challenging period - but it works out.
Thanks for your posts - keep up the good work :)

Cheryl said...

Wow! Thank you! I'm glad you delurked to comment. :)

You'll figure it out. Sometimes I think we wrestle with the Lord just in order to figure out how the Spirit speaks to us, and how to learn to have faith in the face of that fear. I have had questions like yours, where both answers seem right (or wrong) and it wasn't until years later that I learned how the answer was "yes, you can" and not "yes, you will" or "this is the only way." Other's agency plays a big part of it, too.

flip flop mama said...

Because decisions are hard! I'm having a hard time deciding what to do right now about something and I just waffle back and forth because I'm not ready to commit to anything so permanent. It's not even a huge decision but something that is not lightly taken into.

Mary, could it be that there is a third option that you haven't considered? Perhaps it just hasn't been made apparent yet. Just a thought.