Saturday, January 30, 2010

decision factory

I have been learning how to make decisions lately. In a different way. I guess I have always been learning this, but in the past few months I have discovered that some of the machinery in my decision factory was not only out of date, but producing sub-standard end products. Everything seemed to be fine when it left the factory, but you got it home and gave it a road test: BAM the thing fell apart.

Here is the old process:
Dear God, should I do A or B? Should I say yes or no to this opportunity? Is this the right thing to do at this moment? I would wait to hear an answer, read my Bible, ask wise friends, and try to weigh the outcomes of both choices. While it sounds like a simple question based on the desire to obey God, it is in fact more like an ultimatum. Only two choices. And these two choices are at the end of a long road of pre-choices and assumptions that I have already made because I thought I knew what I was doing all along the way. God is only there for quality control, showing up at the end of the line, not to tamper with the process, but to give a final look-see before it hits the shelves and adjust anything I might have missed.

Here is what the new process, still in the beta testing stage, looks like:
Dear God, should I do A or B? No answer. Okay, probably the wrong question. Let's back it up then. What brought me here in the first place? What assumptions did I stand on and what choices did I make to get to this crossroads? What do they reveal about my motivations and values? How did I arrive at the conclusion that my only two choices were A or B? What do I hope to gain by making the so-called "right" choice? Is there pressure to make the decision that is influencing my judgment? Am I really at the point of surrender to God, or am I just wanting the quickest way to success or the scenario that makes me feel okay as a person. Hint: surrender is not usually a comfortable position, especially at first.

Examples:
1. Do I switch to the thesis option or not? The project is more me (hidden meaning = easier, requires less effort because I know how to do it). No answer.
The real question ended up being...
What are you afraid of?
Feeling stupid and getting in over my head and not ending up with really good grades.
Remember, why are you in university?
To learn.
So, pick the path where you will learn the most, even if you don't come away with straight A's. Do you want to learn to stand up for what you are passionate about?
Heck, yeah. Okay. I will really dig into a topic and face that scary thesis defense where I can't hide behind anyone. I will face my fear of not being adequate for a task.

2. So I switched to the thesis option (which requires a lesser course load due to a heavier writing schedule) and was now taking a course I didn't need to take this semester. Do I drop it or stay with it? Easy, I already know this one. I am here to learn, so yes, I buckle down, work really hard, and stick with it, even though it's not required. I finish what I start, I am not a quitter. Besides, the deadline has passed (because God was not giving me a straight answer fast like I needed it) and I now get a mark on my transcript saying that I quit a course after I started it. Not all that attractive.
Well, the real question ended up being...
What is bringing good results in your life right now?
Huh? What does that have to do with my courses? What about learning? If the answer was right before, surely it will work a second time! Don't go all unpredictable on me!
You are using 'predictable' to refer to things other than character. Like I was saying, make sure you have time to put into the people and the projects that are resulting in good fruit in your life and in the lives of others at this point in your life. Seize the opportunities I am sending your way.
Hmmm, okay, so a really full semester would mean that I would have to cut back on my personal writing, pondering, opportunities for teaching, and budding mutually beneficial relationships. But we're past the deadline!!!!
Oh, not willing to pay the cost for the right decision?
Sorry, got out of the surrendering position for a bit there - developed some myopia which focused on maintaining a spotless transcript and reputation instead of harvesting the good fruit you are bringing to my life right now. My bad. Course dropped.

Asking God about the decisions I am faced with today is only the tip of the iceberg. Surrender is much more than involving God in my "now." It goes beyond the things I can see and admit to myself. It addresses my past baggage and includes the cloudly future. It requires that I bypass the safety precautions I have put in place to protect my fragile identity and self-worth. It means that any assumptions and any patterns I have developed into nice, comfy ruts are not off-limits. It means that every day can be square one. I go back to the beginning as often as necessary to make sure I am not building on a faulty foundation.

That's not as discouraging as it sounds, because Jesus is the beginning and the end. The starting point and the goal are closer together than we have been led to believe.

Can you see the forest through the trees? This is a picture of my winter wonderland back in St-Lazare.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

challenge me much?????? sheesh