A few years ago my husband Chris was working in a mine in Africa. Late one night he heard gunfire on the site. He followed protocol and locked down his room. A phone call told him that three had been killed and an Expatriate hostage had been taken. The gunmen now wanted access to the Gold Room or they would kill the hostage. Chris was one of two people who had keys and security codes.
The choice of staying safe or opening the door of his room to the gunmen was tough. Chris didn’t like his options but he did have a choice.
It was nowhere near as dramatic but it felt just as life threatening. I was looking at my future and feeling just as trapped by the circumstances of my life. It was a horrible feeling. It felt like the air was slowly being squeezed from my lungs.
Every possible solution I came up with I ended up with an indecisive but….
Maybe you have felt this way too?
Maybe there is a friendship that seems to be stale and stifling? But you don’t want to hurt her feelings.
Maybe you are feeling stuck in a job that is sucking the life out of you? But you need to money for the mortgage.
Maybe you are confronted with a tough decision in you finances? But you are terrified by the risk attached.
Maybe you have been playing a role for so long even though it fits like a pair of shoes two sizes too small for you? But you don’t want to let people down.
The list goes on.
The lie that we buy into is that we are powerless to effect change in these situations. The truth is we always have a choice. Our choice is a Sovereign right ratified by Heaven and Earth I put before life and death. I would that you choose life. To decide that there is no choice is the same as making a decision to disempower our selves. We may not like our options but we always have a choice that will effect change in our circumstances.
Here are some things to do when you don’t know what to do.
Identify the problem.
What is this really about?
Sometimes the problem is really symptomatic of something else. Fundamentally we know this, so we stand still. Prayerfully reflect on the source of the stress. A stale friendship may be symptomatic of an unhealthy relationship or resistance to having that awkward conversation. A difficult financial decision may be more about poor stewardship of resources than whether to apply for a Top Up Loan to pay off the credit card.
The problem for me was that some really big life changing decisions needed to be made and quite honestly, I didn’t want to be responsible for making them.
Get some perspective.
Who can give me some objective and Godly insight?
This is the power of nurturing Godly relationships in your life. In Australia we have a games show and when the competitors run out of answers they can phone a friend. Too often we cannot see the options in front of our face because of our perspective. Our buts have become barriers to seeing solution. We need to phone a friend. Schedule time with a trusted friend or respected colleague in your life, someone who will listen and provide Godly insight. An objective perspective is invaluable.
I sat with my pastor and mentor of many years and drew from his perspective. I made a vulnerable phone call to Pastor Jane Evans whose feedback arrested my conversation with prophetic insight. I sat across the family dinner table sharing a cup of tea with a dear friend who drew every anxious thought from my heart and reminded me of the woman I was called to be. I am eternally grateful for each and every word invested then into the future I now live in.
Know what is priority.
What is priority right now?
Perspective is powerful, but insight without action is worthless. Worse still when we know what we need to do and fail to action steps to move forward we undermine our confidence. So break it down. What one thing can you do to move you forward tomorrow? Maybe it is writing down all your expenses for the next month so you can see where you could tighten your budget. Emailing your supervisor and applying for the training that is coming up next month may move you forward? It is not what we know, think or even dream that brings change. It is what we do differently and consistently.
I realised that I needed to have one difficult conversation. So I put on my Big Girl Panties and knocked on the door. Once I had that conversation I found that the next step became self-evident.
Deal with the pain.
What pain is attached to this problem?
There are two motivations for behaviour—to realise pleasure or avoid pain. It is really that simple. In theory! When we are stuck in a moment it feels so much more complicated. Understanding what pain may be attached to our indecision helps us reduce the complexity to simple choice.
Maybe the pain attached to your work situation is the fear of not having what it takes to take on a new role that will demand more of you and has the element of the unknown. Maybe the pain attached to the stale friendship is the pain attached to rejection. Asking yourself the question "if there is pain attached to this problem, what is it for me?". When you have answered your question prayerfully seek the Truth to cover the pain. We are either motivated by fear or faith. This will help you make decisions aligned with faith.
For me the greatest pain attached to the choices I needed to make were related to my fear of the loss of relationship with the people that had become my tribe. What I chose to believe was that my tribe would celebrate and support my move and my metamorphous. And they did.
I hope these thoughts help you reflect on the options before you and give you the power to lean into the life you have been created to live. Make choices that align you life with your eternal purpose.
I would love to know what point spoke to you the most?
PO Box 264 Humpty Doo, 0836 NT Australia firstname.lastname@example.org